The price of democracy in the Queenstown Lakes district is a $2 coin.
Nearly three weeks after voting for the district’s council closed, it took a judge, a vote recount and the toss of a coin last Thursday to decide who would take the final seat at the table.
After it turned up heads, Frankton Community Association chairman Glyn Lewers won the sixth Wakatipu ward seat at the expense of technology strategist AJ Mason.
The tie breaker was presided over by council electoral officer Jane Robertson, who told the pair she would flip the coin and let it fall to the floor.
“I hope it doesn’t roll. Best wishes.”
Afterwards, the two men immediately shook hands and warmly embraced.
Lewers said the past two weeks had been a “rollercoaster”.
“The emotions have been up and down, so I know exactly how AJ’s feeling.
“It’s going to take a while to sink in, but it’s one weird way of solving it.”
He would back Mason if he decided to run for council again in three years’ time.
“He certainly needs to be at this table as well.”
Mason, who was sworn in to the council and underwent an induction on October 24, said he was proud to have Lewers representing him on the council.
He was confident he would do a “great job”.
“I certainly look forward to spending the next three years ringing him about potholes in the road.”
The tied vote showed how important it was for people to vote, he said.
The coin toss was authorised by district court judge Mark Callaghan, according to local electoral regulations, after a manual recount of votes requested by Lewers resulted in the pair being tied on 2183 votes.
The preliminary election results, released on October 12, had Lewers in front of Mason by two votes. But when the final result was released five days later, Mason ended on 2184, one in front of Lewers (2183).
The recount found a single vote had been incorrectly recorded by vote counting software.
Callaghan said the vote was for candidate Valerie Miller, but a small mark had been left in the area next to Mason’s name.