3 redos & 33 ties, close elections last year foreboding for big 2024 election cycle, integrity group

Twenty-six elections resulted in ties last year while seven were decided by one-vote margins.
A ballot drop box

At least 33 elections were either tied or decided by single-vote margins last year, while four elections were overturned due to voter fraud, forecasting potential issues for the 2024 presidential election, according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), an election integrity organization. 

Despite 2023 being an off-year for elections, multiple states had local or statewide elections, with several resulting in ties or single-vote margins. However, with the November presidential election this year, issues with absentee ballots could significantly impact results. 

According to PILF, 26 elections resulted in ties last year while seven were decided by one-vote margins. Pennsylvania had the most tied elections, with seven altogether. In total, PILF has found 603 tied elections and 146 elections decided by single votes since 2002. 

“One vote makes a difference,” PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement last week. “Ties happen. Illegal votes, mistakes, and errors shouldn’t determine the winner of an election.” 

There were also at least four elections in the U.S. overturned by courts last year after voting irregularities and fraud were discovered, prompting new balloting in most of those races. The redo elections were for the Caddo Parish sheriff's contest in Louisiana, the Bridgeport mayoral race in Connecticut, and the Presque Isle town board election in Wisconsin. 

The Bridgeport mayoral election fiasco this February also had issues with alleged election malfeasance regarding absentee ballots, which the Democratic secretary of the state referred to the State Elections Enforcement Commission for investigation. The redo election was ordered by a court last year because of alleged absentee ballot fraud. 

In the Caddo Parish sheriff's race last year, the older voting machines don’t create “auditable paper trails,” which makes “an exhaustive hand recount impossible,” according to a PILF report. As a result, only the absentee ballots, which were 17% of the total vote count, were able to be reviewed manually. The judge ordered a redo election after 11 illegal votes were discovered.

Additionally, the November 2022 election for the District II Laredo City Council was also overturned last year by a judge after 11 votes were illegally cast. 

Lauren Bis, PILF director of Communications and Engagement, told Just the News on Monday that local elections tend to have lower turnout than presidential and statewide races, so the results are generally closer. Because of this, “process matters so much,” Bis said, such as “counting only legal votes” and ensuring that those who are “legally eligible to vote are voting.” 

“I’d expect these issues to pop up because every vote matters and this will happen every election,” especially with close races, Bis added. She said that “hopefully” states where elections were overturned, such as Connecticut, Louisiana, and Wisconsin, will realize their errors and “do a better job” next election. 

For tied elections, every state but New Jersey has statutes explaining how to resolve deadlocks after conducting recounts and canvassing, according to the PILF report. 

A total of 28 states use a form of lottery to break ties, while 13 go to special runoff elections. Meanwhile, Texas allows candidates to choose between a runoff or lottery and Idaho uses a coin toss. North Carolina, on the other hand, determines whether to do a lottery or runoff based on voter turnout: if the results are greater than 5,000 voters, then a runoff is triggered, but if it’s less, then a lottery is conducted. 

The rest of the states have the tie-breaking votes cast outside the general electorate. An executive officer makes the final choice of candidate in Montana, Tennessee, and West Virginia, while Nevada and New Hampshire allow the state legislature to vote on it. 

Mail-in ballot issues can significantly impact elections, Bis also noted. For instance, Nevada automatically sends mail ballots to all active, registered voters, and in November 2022, election officials rejected 8,036 mail ballots, according to a PILF report

The 2022 U.S. Senate race in Nevada was determined by 7,928 votes between Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and GOP candidate Adam Laxalt, which ensured that the Democrats took control of the chamber. 

Also, more than 22 million ballots were mailed out in California during the 2022 general election. California election officials also rejected 226,250 mail ballots during both the 2022 primary and general elections, according to the PILF report. A total of 120,432 of those ballots were from the November 2022 election. 

Meanwhile, during the November 2022 election in Pennsylvania, 10,000 mail-in ballots weren't accepted because they had incorrect or missing dates. Bis said that “mail balloting disenfranchises voters,” adding that voters should cast their votes in person to help prevent error and ensure the security of their ballots.