110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
School-referendum recount continues at Elections Office in DeLand; may finish this evening
Elections supervisor: Outcome unlikely to change
By Pat Andrews
posted Nov 12, 2012 - 2:31:26pm
UPDATED 3:45 P.M. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 14 — The Canvassing Board and elections workers continued the recount of the school-tax referendum this afternoon. They hoped to finish sometime this evening.
"We finished the precincts, and now, this is all early voting," Elections Supervisor Ann McFall said, as workers fed ballot pages through scanners.
There has been no significant change in the vote tallies, she and canvassing board members Joyce Cusack, who is vice chair of the County Council, and Judge David Foxman said.
Foxman said it's normal to see a little difference in any recount.
He first served on the Canvassing Board during the August primaries, and Foxman said it has been a very good experience. It gives him a new appreciation for the process, and for the elections workers.
The workers continued until 10:30 p.m. last night, and, "They're already here when I get here in the morning," he added.
McFall and Cusack both agreed the now-tired workers have done an outstanding job.
Cusack, whom County Chair Frank Bruno tapped to sit on the board in his place because he was running for office, said of the experience, "It gives me a whole new respect for sitting on the Canvassing Board. It's a long, tedious process, with no room for error. It's truly democracy at work."
Meanwhile, the School Board is working on Plan B — what to do without the extra funds the additional tax would have generated.
UPDATED 6 A.M. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 14 — After a day of work and little indication that the results would change, Volusia County Elections Supervisor Ann McFall asked School Superintendent Margaret Smith whether she wanted to call off a recount of the Nov. 6 votes on a 1-mill tax for schools.
Smith and School Board attorney Mike Dyer declined, McFall said.
"I would have been happy to stop," the elections supervisor said.
McFall estimated the first two days of the recount had cost the county around $35,000.
On Tuesday, Elections Office workers continued to re-scan ballot pages on which voters had marked their preference concerning the new tax, which the School Board had hoped would help cover a $25 million annual deficit and forestall teacher layoffs.
The extra tax, which would have lasted for four years, would have added about $100 a year to the property-tax bill on a homestead worth $125,000.
The tax lost at the polls Nov. 6, with 103,948 "no" votes and 103,039 "yes" votes.
Because the difference was less than half of 1 percent, the recount that began Nov. 12 was automatic. However, the losing party — in this case, the School Board — could call it off if it appeared the outcome was unlikely to change.
Smith didn't want to take the matter to the School Board, McFall said.
On Tuesday, McFall said the tally so far had changed by six fewer "yes" votes and 11 fewer "no" votes. More than 900 votes would have to change to affect the outcome.
McFall expected the recount might be complete sometime today, Nov. 14.
"We're running precinct tapes now," McFall said Tuesday evening.
Poll workers continued to pass ballot pages through scanners as she spoke.
Kitty Garber of the Florida Fair Elections Coalition was at the Elections Office in the Volusia County Historic Courthouse to observe the recount. She said most of the most of the ballot-scanning machines were performing well, though they have a few years on them.
REPORTED EARLIER: The Volusia County School Board hoped to win support for a 1-mill extra property tax, generating an extra $26 million each of the next four years, to fund local schools. That hope was shattered by the unofficial election results.
The "no" votes totaled 50.22 percent, and "yes" votes, in favor of adding the additional property tax, trailed with 49.78 percent of the vote.
The difference is .44 percent of the 234,662 votes cast on the referendum, less than half a percent, which triggers an automatic recount. That is now under way, Monday, Nov. 12, in the Volusia County Historic Courthouse, 125 W. New York Ave. in DeLand.
Today, absentee ballots — 62,348 of them — are being re-scanned, under the eye of the Canvassing Board — Elections Supervisor Ann McFall, Judge David Foxman, and Volusia County Council Vice Chair Joyce Cusack. On those ballots, 6,514 voters didn't vote on the school-tax amendment, McFall said. As she spoke, poll workers re-scanned just one page of the absentee ballots — the page containing the vote on the referendum.
When that work is finished, elections staff will start on precinct results, probably this afternoon, scanning only the page containing the school-tax referendum vote.
All ballots containing undervotes, with no preference indicated on the referendum, and overvotes, with both "yes" and "no" marked, will be set aside and kept accessible, in case they are needed for a manual recount.
McFall said she doubts a manual recount will be necessary, nor does she suspect the recount will change the election results. That would require at least 900 more "yes" votes than were tabulated after the polls closed.
"Will 900 be found? I do not think so," McFall said.
The recount should be complete sometime tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 13, she said.
These results must be reported to the state by 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15; if a manual recount is necessary, it will be ordered.
The official certification of the election, or the official results of the Nov. 6 general election, must be submitted to the Florida Department of State no later than noon Sunday, Nov. 18.
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