Home » Uncategorized » Tie Vote Stories Continued – The Siren Call of the 20-Sided Die

Tie Vote Stories Continued – The Siren Call of the 20-Sided Die

For the last week or so, my old co-worker and Texas county affairs expert Paul Miles has been entertaining me with yet another tie-vote story – (from the June 17, 2014 Corpus Christi Caller-Times; the bulk of the text is unfortunately now behind a paywall) this one out of Kenedy County, in far South Texas. We both found it interesting that the county chair explicitly mentioned to the newspaper reporter that a 20-sided die was available (but sadly not uncovered in time) to resolve the tie vote in a hotly-contested commissioner’s race, which was ultimately settled when both candidates threw five dice each.

For those of you not hip to the ways of polyhedral dice, 20-sided dice are essential, and arguably iconic pieces of game equipment for various popular roleplaying games, but probably don’t get much use in the no-nonsense back country of the Texas frontier.

In the spirit of lightly poking fun at the sometimes baroque lengths that people will go to in casting lots to settled tied elections (and without intending offense toward either of the candidates, both of whom would certainly have preferred to win outright), I offer this:

Module T3 - The Quest For Tiebreaker




  1. Eli Poupko says:

    This wonderfully doctored image brings me back to my days as Morgan Ironwolf, 7th level Paladin armed with a +10HP vorpal sword. I haven’t seen those dice in a long time… But I’m curious, why did they end up throwing 5 dice? Was a single die not considered “random” enough, or perhaps just not sufficiently indicative of the momentousness of the decision?

    • That’s a good question – apparently the county clerk had two unopened packages of dice in her pickup truck; both packages had five dice in each (you can go to HEB and find these bubble-pack Bicycle brand dice sitting on the shelf). My impression was that the Mr. Shultz (the county Democratic Party chair who supervised the die throw) managed to convince the candidates to throw dice by invoking the sacrosanct purity of the unopened packages – sort-of treating the packaging in the same way that one might treat the elaborate seals and guarantees of lack of tampering found on a deck of cards. The story in the Corpus Christi paper didn’t make clear whether the clerk had bought the dice specifically to deal with the tie vote, or if she just happened to have the dice lying around.

      Anyway, the fact that the dice were packed in sets of five seems to have been the motivator to throw so many dice. I harbored secret hopes that the courthouse in Sarita is a hotbed of secret roleplaying, and that the (comparatively) large number of dice being thrown was a reflection of a local familiarity with throwing for hit points, damage throws, etc. And on a completely different note – you had a +10 vorpal sword? You must have been completely unstoppable – especially considering the capacity to get decapitating blows such a large percentage of the time.

      I have to confess that my own D&D characters never quite reached those heights of power, although I had a slightly dim fighter (Thane William of Westfall) who was a dedicated reverse solipsist, insisting to any and all who would listen that he had no free will or independent existence apart from his liege lord’s projected expectations. Good times.

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