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May the luckiest person win? Local election decided by odd ritual from the 1930s

WASHINGTON CO., Pa. — Every vote counts. That’s what a candidate said after he had to pick a ball out of a bag to determine the winner of a Washington County election that initially ended in a tie.

The two men running for the Avella Area School Board chose balls out of a bag Tuesday at the Board of Elections in Washington. And if that seems a bit old-school, it’s because it is.

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Melanie Ostrander, the elections director, told Channel 11 this is the way it’s been done in that district since the 1930s. The election code was adopted in 1937.

"We have numbered balls, and we show the candidates all 16. And the person who receives the highest number will be determined the winner," Ostrander said.


The candidates told Channel 11 they want voters to remember this story because had just one more person voted that day, it wouldn't be left to a game of chance.

"It just makes everybody realize your vote does count," said Jeff Devenney, the winner of the election. "One vote is the difference. We ended up 'drawing pills' is what they call it."

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