24 Years Ago: Wyoming’s Closest Election Decided By Ping-Pong Ball
Every vote counts, especially in a small state like Wyoming. Here's a look back at the closest election in Cowboy State history, when a ping-pong ball broke a tie between two candidates for the State House.
After all the ballots were counted November, 8,1994, the race was a dead heat, with Republican Randall Luthi and Independent Larry Call each receiving 1,941 votes. An odd Wyoming election law calling for ties to be settled by drawing lots was invoked by then-Governor Mike Sullivan.
Sullivan placed two ping-pong balls in his cowboy hat. After he pulled the ping pong ball representing Luthi, the lawyer went on to represent Lincoln County in the state legislature for 12 years, including a two-year stint as Speaker of the House.
Although there has only been one documented tie, there have been several closely contested elections in Wyoming history. In 2016, House District 41 candidate Bill Henderson beat Patrick Fitzgerald by one vote, 583 to 582. Another race was decided by four votes. Along with drawing lots to break a tie, Wyoming law also calls for a recount in any election decided by 1% or less.