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Rare Holmes Beach election recount takes place at SOE

Manatee County Deputy Supervisor of Elections Scott Farrington, left, explains the ballot recount procedures to Holmes Beach election canvassing board members, from left, Jaynie Christianson, Stacey Johnston and Lori Hill. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

was the first time any of the voters and candidates asked could recall a recount in an island election, but the Nov. 5 count in Holmes Beach was too close to call.

At the end of the day, incumbent Commissioner Pat Morton clearly retained his seat with 753 votes, but fellow incumbents David Zaccagnino and Jean Peelen were separated by less than 1 percent of the total votes —650 to 648 respectively.

Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett said state statutes mandate a recount.

It was conducted Nov. 7 by Bennett along with deputy supervisor Scott Farrington and elections office staff members. The only candidate to attend was Melissa Williams, as the Holmes Beach election canvassing board, city clerk Stacey Johnston, Jaynie Christianson and city treasurer Lori Hill, followed the process to conclusion.

After the electronic recount, Zaccagnino increased his vote total by one, from 650 votes to 651. Peelen had 648 votes, the same number as the original count, and political newcomer Carol Soustek 635, in fourth position Nov. 5, lost three votes in the recount.

Zaccagnino and Peelen were certified winners after the recount.

Bennett said if the recount had shown the difference between third and fourth place votes was one-quarter percent or less of the total vote, the elections office would have been required by law to perform a hand count.

The difference of 13 votes in the recount between Soustek, who finished fourth, and Peelen, who was third, did not warrant a hand recount.

The total votes cast for the three seats was 3,104, while voter turnout was 1,189, or 36.15 percent of the city’s 3,289 registered voters.

The certified results show Morton with 753 votes, Zaccagnino with 651, Peelen at 648, Soustek with 635 and Williams with 417.

A total of 1,191 votes were cast, including 325 absentee ballots. Two absentee ballots were disallowed in the recount. One ballot was blank, while the other had four candidates marked when only three were allowed.

In absentee voting, Morton got 214 votes, Peelen received 197 votes, Zaccagnino 190, Soustek 181 and Williams 68 votes.

The recount took place at the Manatee County election supervisor’s office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton.

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