COUPLAND, Texas (KXAN) — What happens when a $91.6 million school bond election ends in a tied vote? That’s what the Coupland Independent School District is figuring out after its May bond election ended in a 68-68 vote, according to unofficial results.
Because the measure did not receive more “for” votes than “against” votes, the Texas Secretary of State’s Office said the bond will fail after the canvassing, or approval, of results. The school board is canvassing its election results May 18.
According to state code, there is no automatic recount procedure like in candidate elections.
Coupland ISD’s bond was for a two-part campus expansion. The first phase was to build classrooms for grades 6,7 and 8; science labs; a media center; a practice gym; a band hall; and other campus additions. The second phase was for a secondary school building to add grades 9-12 at CISD.
The district doubled in size from the 2019-20 to 2021-22 school years — an increase from 102 students to 204 students, according to the district. This outpaced the school district’s high-growth projection estimates.
The bond would have required a tax rate increase of about $38 for the average CISD homeowner, according to the district.
Brian Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward’s University, said in this specific election, your vote really did matter. Because a small number of people voted and May elections saw low turnout, the greater each vote had the ability to make a difference.
“It’s not like an election where you may not see a difference on who is elected,” he said. “This actually had real economic consequences.”
Smith said a similar case, which did not have a tie, was the 2011 House District 48 race between Donna Howard and Dan Neil. The original results left a 12 vote margin, an initial recount left a 16-vote margin, and Howard ended up winning the seat by 4 votes following an investigation.
What happens when other elections are tied?
Unlike in ties for measures or election propositions, a tied candidate race follows different rules for runoffs and recounts, according to state election code section 2.002. The Secretary of State’s office said it is not aware of a tied proposition at the state level, but it does not keep records of tied results at the local level.
If a tie happens and a political entity requires a majority vote, then a runoff election is held 20 to 45 days after the canvass. If the vote is still tied, then an automatic recount happens. If a tie remains, then lots are cast to pick the winner.
If a tie happens and a political entity requires a plurality vote, then a runoff election is held or candidates can agree to cast lots to pick a winner or one candidate can withdraw.
If the candidates choose to have a runoff election, an automatic recount is done first. If the recount does not lead to a winner, then the runoff election will happen between 20-30 days after the recount. If the election remains tied, then another automatic recount is completed. If a tie remains, then lots are cast to pick the winner.
KXAN reached out to Coupland ISD for comment but did not receive a response before airtime.