HERB SMITH the Western Maryland College political...


HERB SMITH the Western Maryland College political scienc prof and polling expert, sent us this intersting bit of Americana from the March 22 Election Administration Reports:

"When neither the voters of Stanley County, S.D., nor the South Dakota Supreme Court was able to determine a winner of last November's election for state's attorney, the contestants settled the matter March 16 the old fashioned frontier way -- with a hand of stud poker."

It seems Republican Curtis D. Mortenson edged out Democrat Bernard E. Duffy 703-702 on election night.

But a recount turned up five uncounted ballots, 3-2 for Mr. Duffy. So it was a 705-705 tie.

A lower court threw out one of Mr. Mortenson's votes. So it was Duffy 705-704.

The state's Supreme Court threw it back in. 705-705 again.

Under the law, a tie is settled by a drawing of lots or other game of pure chance. Mr. Duffy allowed Mr. Mortenson to choose. Both candidates are descendants of early frontier cowboy days.

He chose poker. Draw poker was disallowed, since it is a game of skill. So County Auditor Jacque Eldridge dealt a game she called stud poker, but which was in fact showdown. Five cards dealt face up.

Duffy got 8, Mortenson 8. Then Duffy got 10, Mortenson A . Duffy 3, Mortenson J. Duffy 4, Mortenson 10. Duffy 9 -- it was over, Mortenson the winner, even without his fifth card, a 10 for a pair.

Then Duffy shot and killed him.

No. Just kidding. Mr. Mortenson is today state's attorney of Stanley County.

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