Quebec town chooses mayor by pulling name from hat after result ends in a tie

A small town near Quebec City has a new mayor after an unusual election that ended with the winner’s name pulled from a hat.

The mayoral race in St-Jean-de-l’Ile-d’Orleans was decided by draw earlier this week, after a judicial recount determined that the two candidates tied at 327 votes apiece.

The ultimate winner, Jean Lapointe, said in an interview Thursday he and his rival were given the option of a coin toss or a draw, and he said they chose the latter.

There was no box to put the pieces of paper into, so the judge offered his hat, which was then fetched from his office, Lapointe said.

Lapointe’s name emerged, confirming he had unseated the town’s longtime mayor, Jean-Claude Pouliot.

Lapointe said the result was fair because he had originally been declared the winner by one vote. That result was changed to a tie after a recount, however, when a judge allowed a ballot for Pouliot that had been excluded for being incorrectly marked.

“I was the winner; I stayed the winner,” Lapointe said in a phone interview. “It would have been shocking had Mr. Pouliot won the draw because that ballot wasn’t good.”

Now that the election is behind him, the 59-year-old says he’s looking forward to working with council to develop a budget and to work on projects like building a new youth centre and bringing a daycare to his town. Lapointe said he’s also going to retire from his job in the trucking business to dedicate himself full time to the town of just over 1,000 people, which is located on an island in the St. Lawrence River.

Quebec election law states that a draw should be held between the winning candidates if the election results in a tie that is confirmed by a recount. St-Jean-de-l’Ile-d’Orleans wasn’t the only town affected by that rule during the Nov. 7 municipal elections.

The town of St-Luce, in the Bas-St-Laurent region, also had to conduct a random draw for one of its councillor positions following a tie — as did Bedford, in the Eastern Townships.

– This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.