The US community of Sister Bay is rather sleepy and cozy – gambling is generally not an issue there. Perched on a promontory on Lake Michigan, this little town has little more to offer than a beer garden with goats grazing on the grass roof. Incidentally, their everyday life is broadcast live across the world via a stream. Well, a fabulous view over the big lake, a few secluded corners by the water and a small marina are other “highlights”. The media would probably not give Sister Bay any great interest in all of this.
However, media attention is now in the community connection with their unusual election of the village president.
For example, Der Spiegel writes (jokingly, of course) about a “democratic innovation”. Local newspapers and those responsible on site are a bit more pragmatic: the procedure was necessary and implemented transparently. But what exactly happened? Why was the dice left to decide in Sister Bay?
This is how the voting decision was made using the dice
In early April 2023, 512 residents of Sister Bay turned out to elect their new village president. In fact, of those votes, each of the two candidates got half: 256 for Nate Bell and 256 for Rob Zoschke.
The election office manager told the local news channel NBC 26 that everyone involved had assumed at least one vote more for one or the other possible president. The approximately 70 residents who did not come to the polls could have made the difference. Now, however, the community was faced with a clear draw. The solution was a bit unconventional (to say the least): they decided to let the dice decide.
The procedure was extremely simple
A polling officer was assigned to each candidate. The ladies were tasked with rolling the dice on behalf of Nate Bell and Rob Zoschke (acting President at the time) respectively. The dice were rolled during a live broadcast via zoom. In this way, those responsible wanted to ensure full transparency.
The video made it clear to all interested Sister Bay residents that Nate Bell won the election. His poll worker threw a six. Zoschke, on the other hand, only got a two, with which he officially resigned from his post. Bell will step in as his successor effective April 18, 2023.
And what do the candidates and those responsible for the election say about the dice?
Most participants agree that the dice were the perfect option for the voting decision under these conditions. The election workers said that they had initially considered tossing a coin or drawing slips of paper. However, rolling the dice was the fairest solution.
Rob Zoschke, who lost the election, also spoke up: The approach with the dice was completely in his interest. He even had one of the cubes given to him as a souvenir. He also suggested that the new president might use the dice election as an opportunity to hold a dice charity event in the near future. Nate Bell has not yet commented.
Different countries, different customs: On the one hand, it is of course absolutely strange to have an official election decided by luck of the dice. On the other hand, this seems – especially in view of the enormous electoral bureaucracy in Germany – but also quite refreshing.
What this case can teach us and local politicians is the following: it doesn’t have to be the most complicated solution every time.