Coin tosses have been used to decide democracy in the US, but voters have said it’s “time for a change”.
The novel decision-making process was used at Democratic caucuses in Iowa, the first votes so far in the long journey towards choosing who will be the party’s presidential candidate.
Candidates can gain victory by winning delegates, people who vote on behalf of a group for their favourite candidate – but, particularly in smaller precincts, a coin toss can often be required to decide how the delegates are distributed when support is tied.
In West Des Moines, a coin toss was needed to decide whether candidates Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden would receive a delegate – a process Victoria McQuerry, 51, filmed, tweeting: “Can’t make this s*** up.”
“All precinct leaders watched and agreed to the process – I believe the person who called the coin toss was the Warren rep,” Ms McQuerry told the PA news agency.
It was Mr Biden who proved victorious in the coin flip, earning a helping step forward in his campaign.
The process is not new, with 13 coin tosses used in the Iowa caucus in 2016 – seven of which were won by Senator Bernie Sanders while six went to Hillary Clinton.
Asked if the system works, Ms McQuerry answered: “No. It doesn’t.
“My precinct leaders did an honest job. I expect that others did as well. But the caucus process is exclusionary. It takes hours of time. Many cannot attend… It’s time for a change.”
Meredith Cooney filmed the moment a coin was used at another precinct, of which there are 1,765 in Iowa.
This was mine. #IowaCaucuses #CaucusForWarren it was a coin toss to determine if the delegate split would be Pete 2 Bernie 2, or Pete 1 Bernie 3 (@ewarren was guaranteed 1 delegate either way) pic.twitter.com/tUSrdEhUTy— Meredith Cooney (@LittleMissC) February 4, 2020
In the video, the winning candidate’s representative is seen shouting “that’s what I’m talking about” after he correctly called the flip to be tails.
The process of the Iowa caucus was pulled into further scrutiny after its results were delayed by a “coding issue in the reporting system”, according to the Iowa Democratic Party.
The results will now reportedly be announced on Tuesday evening, having initially been planned for Monday.
In response to the failure, Republican US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Big WIN for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!”
Big WIN for us in Iowa tonight. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2020
Mr Sanders said he had “a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well” when the results are announced.