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Mississippi lawmakers resolve election tie in controversial move

Sometimes, an election ends in exact tie. Just such a scenario unfolded in Mississippi, and the contest was resolved yesterday in a highly controversial way.
State Capitol of Mississippi, in Jackson. (Photo by Visions of America/UIG/Getty)
State Capitol of Mississippi, in Jackson. 
There's something amazing about elections that end in an exact tie. It doesn't happen often, and the larger the election the more statistically improbable it becomes, but once in a great while, we'll see a race in which two rivals end up with the exact same number of votes, which often leads to some kind of card game to determine a winner.
Last fall, in Mississippi 79th legislative district, there was just such a tie. Incumbent state Rep. Bo Eaton (D) ran for re-election against challenger Mark Tullos (R), and when the dust settled, the two ended up tied. The local tie-breaker called for the candidates to draw straws. In this case, Eaton pulled the long straw, was declared the winner, and went back to work in Jackson.
But that was more the beginning of the story than the end. Tullos contested the results and took his case to the Republican-led legislature. Yesterday, the Clarion-Ledger reported that state lawmakers undid what the tie-breaker decided in the fall.

The Republican-controlled House voted late Wednesday, mostly along party lines, to unseat longtime Democratic state Rep. Bo Eaton and name Republican challenger Mark Tullos the winner of the District 79 seat. [...] After more than three hours of debate, the House voted 67-49 to unseat Eaton and declare Tullos the winner of the seat which has been in limbo since the Nov. 3 general election. The full house voted on a five-member committee's recommendation made earlier Wednesday.

Leaders from the GOP majority insisted that they weren't motivated by partisanship, but rather, they claim Eaton benefited from five provisional votes that Republicans believe shouldn't have been counted.
So what happens now?
As a result of the switch, the Republican majority in the 122-member chamber moves from 73 to 74, which means the GOP now has the three-fifths supermajority it's been looking for: with 74 votes, Republicans have cleared the threshold "to pass revenue-related bills over Democratic opposition."
For his part, Tullos said yesterday, "It's bittersweet. I'm glad it's over. I have known Bo for a long time. He has been a representative for 21 years. We appreciate what he has done."