Anger Ensues After City Clerk Makes Ballot Decision With Coin Flip

There are many decisions that can be decided by a coin toss—like who gets to ride in the front seat, for instance, or whose turn it is to do dishes. But how about choosing one of two dueling arguments to be placed on a citywide ballot? For San Bernardino City Clerk Gigi Hanna, a coin toss is an option for that as well.

While vacationing in Oregon, Hanna flipped a coin to decide which of two competing arguments opposing a change to the city’s charter would appear on the ballot before voters. She even posted video of the toss to Facebook to prove there was no hanky panky. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group that lost the toss is now crying foul.

Former City Attorney James Penman, who represents that group, criticized Hanna for the flip, especially since it was conducted in absence of any previous public notice. His group’s argument should appear on the ballot too, he said.

“Failure to do so could result in a subsequent invalidation of the election outcome, in our opinion,” Penman wrote in an email to Hanna.

But the California election code states that the city clerk “shall select one of the arguments in favor and one of the arguments against the measure for printing and distribution to the voters” when more than one argument is submitted. The coin flip was recommended by the office of the current city attorney, Hanna said.

Read more about the dueling ballot arguments and the coin flip fallout here.

Image Credit: Flickr User armydre2008, via (CC BY 2.0)