Residents and Candidates Still Waiting on Election Results
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV20 News.
This time you don't blame hanging chads. Issues with optical scanners at two Gilchrist County precincts delayed official vote totals. So Wednesday amounted to a nervous day of waiting for the candidates while election officials tried to correct the problem.
The two precincts missing amount to twenty-percent of precinct votes unaccounted for. And with those kind of numbers still up in the air, even candidates with significant leads showed up to watch.
The Gilchrist County voting machines work fine. But a day later, the winners in the election still don't know who they are.
Kenrick Thomas has a 16-point lead over Deen Lancaster in the County Commission District Five race.
"It's a long day you know," says Thomas. "And we came in, hot outside all day, and we figured we'd be out with the results by nine o'clock."
The big board outside the courthouse shows the problem. Precincts 2A and 3A are blank--which means the total vote count remains empty.
Supervisor of Elections Connie Sanchez says the issue is with the ballots themselves. She blames the printer for printing the sequence numbers on Republican ballots for two precincts wrong. So while the numbers read zero when they are not supposed to be blank, they tally up under the wrong precinct.
She says Tuesday night, the "phone ringing off the hook. Candidates sitting here, courtroom still full, people just wanting to know what's going on. It was awful."
Sanchez explained the situation to a very interested group of candidates Wednesday afternoon. But it didn't send anyone home. As the scene of the action moved to the courtroom for the offical counting, the candidates weren't far behind. And as the machine whirrs away, Thomas is understanding and just hopes his margin holds.
"If we lived in a perfect world, it would be perfect," says Thomas. "But we don't so we do run into problems along the way and we work through it."
The counting will actually stretch into Thursday. There aren't enough ballots to duplicate for Precinct 3A, so election officials hope to finish up Thursday once more ballots come from Tallahassee.
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