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Four State Primary Races Go To Recount

Six primary candidates are still waiting to find out if they’ll be the ones running for a seat in the Florida legislature. The primary races are so tight they’re heading for an automatic recount. The close races largely stem from a shakeup caused by redistricting earlier in the year, that pitted a number of incumbents against each other.

Four Florida primary races are so tight they’re within a half a percentage point or less, which under state law, means the results have to be automatically recounted. Three of the races are for Florida House and Senate seats for districts from Palm Beach County, the Miami Gardens area and a district that spans a few counties including Okeechobee and Glades Counties. One of the close primary races is a circuit court race in the Jacksonville area.

Representative John Patrick Julien, who currently serves in district 104, is vying for House district 107’s Democratic slot in Miami-Dade County. He thinks redistricting has a lot to do with the tight races.

“A lot of folks are running in new territory where they’re not known, so it was a tossup who was going to be the stronger candidate. So, yes, redistricting has a lot to play with some of these tight races,” Julien said.

Although that’s not the reason Julien thinks the primary race he’s a part of came down to such razor thin line. Right now Julien trails Barbara Watson, an incumbent in House district 103, by 26 votes at last count.  Julien thinks his race was affected by the other elections on the ballot.

“It was a whole lot closer than we expected, but then after analyzing the figures yesterday and doing a spreadsheet it all made sense, because my opponent is from Miami Gardens where she served on the city council over there and primary her old house district represented most of Miami Gardens. Miami Gardens has a county commission race going on, Miami Gardens also had a congressional race going on," Julien said.

Miami Gardens also had a mayoral race, and open council seats. Julien said that led to what he calls an “over performance” in Miami Gardens. On the other hand, he said there weren’t as many reasons for people who might vote for him to get out and vote.

“On my side of town I was it. I was the only draw. So folks were either coming out to vote for John Patrick Julien or they weren't"

Julien said he’s flattered he got as many votes as he did. His race with Watson is within a quarter of a percentage point.

Susan Bucher, the Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach County said there are specific rules that have to be followed during a recount.

“And if its within one quarter of a percent the law requires that we not only run it through our high speed counters, but we also out stack or separate the over and under vote and those will be physically examined by a counting team and the candidates have the ability to have a observers and if they disagree with the counting teams determination or the counting team has a problem with the determination then those ballots will be canvassed by the canvassing board,” Bucher said.

Bucher will be overseeing the recount for the race for the Democratic seat for the Senate District in Palm Beach County between incumbents Jeff Clemens and Mack Bernard. At last count, Bernard trailed Clemens by about 35 votes. It’s a gap Bernard said he thinks he can make up, especially with things like provisional ballots. He said a lot of his supporters are first-time voters from the Haitian community.

“We’re really concerned about making sure that everyone who shows up to the polls, either who voted by their ballots or by absentee ballots, or by provisional ballots, their vote gets casted. There was a huge turn-out in the Haitian community and we want to make sure that everyone’s vote gets counted,” Bernard said.

Another race that looks to be heading for a recount is between former Representative Randy Johnson and a doctor named Cary Pigman for the Republican slot in a race for a House Seat that serves the Sebring area. At last Count Johnson trailed Pigman by about 30 votes. A race for judicial circuit judge in the Jacksonville area is also heading for a recount. Elections officials say the recounts are likely to be a lengthy process, but a sure winner is expected by Monday.