In an extraordinary outcome, Tisbury’s referendum on whether town restaurants should be allowed to sell beer and wine with meals has ended in a tie vote, 690 in favor and 690 against. The result means the controversy over the proposed measure, which has run for almost three years, will run for at least a few days more, pending a manual recount of all the computer ballots.

Tisbury town clerk Marion Mudge said in her 24 years in the position, she could not recall any other tied vote.

She said the first step toward resolving the deadlock is for one side or the other to formally request a recount.

“Then we’ll then appoint people to do the recounting, and both the yes and no side will have representatives who will watch every ballot that is counted and every mark that’s made.

“At the end of that you’ve got the final results,” she said.

If the result remains tied, the status quo will be maintained, and Tisbury will remain a dry town.

A measure of the depth of feeling on both sides of the issue, just over 51 per cent of registered voters — 1,401 people — turned out for the election, the highest number ever for a local ballot.

“By way of comparison, we would get 800 to 900 out for a normal contested selectman’s election,” Ms. Mudge said.

The other major contest Tuesday was for selectman, between incumbent Tom Pachico and challenger Jeff Kristal. It also was close.

By a margin of just 14 votes, Mr. Kristal won, 679 to 665.

The toughest counting task of the night, however, was working out the makeup of the town’s finance committee. There were four vacancies, Ms. Mudge said, but nobody on the ballot.

The ballots would all have to be counted by hand, to tally write-in candidates.

“The four top vote-getters for the write-ins will actually get a seat, whether they want it or not,” she said.

“We’ve had a number of times when people have been written in that way. We’ve actually had some very good members elected that way.”

A complete story about the Tisbury annual town election will appear in the Friday Gazette.