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Coin toss decides Democratic primary in Kansas

John Milburn

A Democratic primary for a seat in the Kansas House was settled Friday by the flip of a coin, resolving the last race undecided after the Aug. 7 primary.

The primary election for the 65th District seat in northeastern Kansas ended in a tie between Melody Saxton and Tom Brungardt, both of Junction City. Both received 206 votes, and Kansas law requires the State Board of Canvassers to settle ties by the casting of lots, in this case a coin toss.

Saxton won a coin flip and will face Republican Allan Rothlisberg in November.

"It's exciting," Saxton said. "I keep saying we made history."

The board, which includes Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor, also voted not to count the results of Tuesday's special election in two precincts in Shawnee County.

The revote was ordered by the county's board of canvassers after it discovered some voters received the wrong ballots on Aug. 7.

The county board decided to have 432 voters go back to the polls because the 52nd District race was so close after the primary. The official election tally by the Shawnee County Commission had Topeka physician Shanti Gandhi ahead by 46 votes over Dick Jones, a retired naval and U.S. State Department officer.

The recount didn't change the outcome and Gandhi will face Democrat Ted Ensley in November.

Kobach told Schmidt that he would submit a letter seeking a formal opinion regarding the legality of the Shawnee County special election. Kobach, Schmidt and Taylor suggested it would then be left to the Kansas Legislature to decide what changes, if any, would be made to the election laws to amend the process.

Kobach said turnout in the primary exceeded his expectations, with 23.2 percent of registered voters participating. He had forecast of 18 percent.

The Associated Press