Straw draw decides UK local election result

The last seat in the Northumberland county council election is decided with a straw draw

Story highlights

  • Straws were drawn to decide final seat on local council in Northumberland, UK
  • Liberal Democrat candidate won, denying Conservative Party a majority

(CNN)All eyes may be on the final round of the French presidential election this weekend, but tensions were running high in a sports hall in the north-east of England Friday.

In a tightly fought contest between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates for the final seat on the local council, the winner was decided by drawing straws.
    The Conservative party had already won 33 of the 67 council seats and needed just one more for a majority.
    But the final seat proved to be a tight battle -- and after two counts, there was just one vote difference between the two candidates.
    So straws were drawn.
    The Liberal Democrat candidate Lesley Jennifer Rickerby drew the winning straw, retaining her seat on the council and denying the Conservatives a majority.
    She was clearly thrilled with the result.
    Local election guidelines in England state that when two or more candidates, competing for the last or only seat to be allocated, have the same number of votes, the returning officer -- the person in charge of the election process -- must decide between the candidates by lot.
    The officer could write the names of the two candidates on pieces of paper, shuffle them in a box, and draw out a name, the guidelines suggest.
    In this case, it appears that the one vote difference was considered close enough to be a tie, and the paper method was rejected in favor of straws.
    Polls were held across many parts of the UK Thursday to elect local councilors. Votes are still being counted in many places.
    Coming just a few weeks before the snap election recently called by Prime Minister Theresa May, the elections are being seen as a bellweather for public opinion.
    Theresa May's Conservative Party has made gains in many councils -- including Northumberland -- while the opposition Labour Party has lost a number of seats.
    UKIP, the right-wing, anti-immigration party that under former leader Nigel Farage campaigned hard for Brexit, has so far lost all of the council seats it previously held.