Coin toss settles tie in precinct chair election for Democrats: Alessia Modjarrad

Alessia Modjarrad will be the new precinct chair for the Bloomington 23 precinct, a predominantly university student area on the north side of town.

That was the outcome of a coin flip on Friday afternoon, which settled a tie between Modjarrad and Karen Granger in Tuesday’s elections.

Presiding over the coin toss was Democratic Party chair David Henry. Under Indiana Democratic Party rules, it’s the county chair who determines how to break the tie.

Henry laid out the ground rules before flipping the 1922 Liberty silver dollar that he had selected for the occasion. Before the toss, Modjarrad was allowed to make the call for her side of the coin—she chose tails.

When the hundred-year-old coin hit the carpet inside the Democratic Party headquarters at 4th and Madison streets, it landed tails-side-up. That made Modjarrad the Bloomington 23 precinct chair.

Right after that, Henry announced that he is appointing Granger to chair a different precinct—Bloomington 24 downtown. As county party chair, Henry can appoint non-residents to be the chair of a precinct, if the seat is vacant.

Henry joked that Granger might have gotten the better deal—because the downtown Bloomington 24 precinct includes Nick’s English Hut, the popular Kirkwood Avenue establishment.

Bloomington 23 is bounded on the west by Miller-Showers Park and on the east by Fee Lane. On the north, Bloomington 23 is bounded by the SR 45/46 bypass and on the south by 17th Street.

Voting for the Bloomington 23 precinct chair seat on Tuesday was light. It was a four-way race that saw just 15 total votes cast. The other two candidates were Chaim Julian and Jackson Murphy. Modjarrad and Granger each received 5 votes, Murphy 3, and Julian 2.

In small talk before the coin toss, Henry said both Granger and Modjarrad were good candidates and made for strong additions to the party. Granger had grown up around the party, Henry said—her mother is Dorothy Granger, former Bloomington city councilmember and now Bloomington township board member.

Henry noted that Modjarrad worked on Matt Fyfe’s winning primary campaign for the Democratic Party’s 9th District congressional nomination.

The role of a precinct chair is not ceremonial. The specific responsibilities for precinct chairs described on the Monroe County Democratic Party’s website include, among other things: gathering petition signatures for party candidates; using door-to-door canvassing to distribute party and candidate literature; registering voters and maintaining regular contact with newly registered voters; finding out where independent voters stand on party candidates, holding house parties for party candidates; prompting alternate forms of voting among party supporters; and helping “chase” early absentee ballots to ensure they are returned.

If a vacancy in a public office needs to be filled through a party caucus, precinct chairs are the only people who vote. Vacancies filled through a party caucus have not been rare in recent years.

After the coin toss, The B Square asked Modjarrad if a potential chance to vote in a vacancy caucus factored into her motivation to serve a precinct chair. Not really, she said.

What motivated her to run for precinct chair, Modjarrad said, was “mostly just the nitty gritty GOTV [get out the vote].” She continued, “It’s also the fact that Bloomington 23 is very student dominated.” She added, “I believe in having more students at the table in our local Democratic Party.”

It’s a “nice added bonus” to have a chance to participate in a vacancy caucus, she said, but she didn’t run for a four-year term as precinct chair just hoping that there would be a chance to vote to fill a vacancy.

The Bloomington 23 contest was one of 19 precinct chair races that were contested on Tuesday.

Practice (slow motion video)

Practice again (slow motion video)

Makes Perfect (slow motion video)

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