The Republican primary between Webster Barnaby of Deltona and Elizabeth Fetterhoff of DeLand was too close to call on election night.
Today, following a recount of more than 15,000 votes, the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Office called Barnaby’s victory by just 30 votes.
The recount that began at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, was a 16-hour workday for many Elections Office workers, Supervisor Lisa Lewis said. It was also an all day affair for both candidates, who were on hand to observe the recount and await the results.
The percentage of votes separating Barnaby and Fetterhoff was just .20 percent, triggering a machine and manual recount, by law.
“I am grateful to the good Lord for the strength, energy and passion to serve, grateful to my loving family and to our top-notch team,” Barnaby wrote in a post on Facebook. “Our God-given freedom, access to opportunity and the American Dream are at stake in November, and I will not back down in this fight.”
On Election Day, Barnaby received 7,446 votes, or 50.10 percent of the 14,861 votes cast in the Republican primary, while Fetterhoff took 7,415, or 49.90 percent.
More voters cast ballots by mail for Fetterhoff, while more voters appeared in-person on Aug. 23 to vote for Barnaby.
In the recount, Barnaby gained four votes, for a total of 7,450, while Fetterhoff gained five, for a total of 7,420.
“Each time ballots are put back through for tabulation, they can read differently,” Lewis said.
That’s due, in part, to the wear and tear on the ballots from being handled, both by election workers and by the public. Lewis said a new auditing system is set to go into place this year.
“I am excited for this to be certified and rules be developed,” Lewis told The Beacon. “This provides the opportunity to audit and recount the ballots independently without ever having to touch the physical paper ballot a second or third time.”
Also, in a manual recount of the over votes (more than one candidate was selected) or under votes (the voter does not select either candidate), humans examine the ballots and can discern a voter’s intention when a machine could not.
Fetterhoff currently represents the DeLand and Daytona Beach areas in the Florida House, while Barnaby represents southern Volusia County, from Deltona to Oak Hill. Both were elected in 2018, but once-in-a-decade redistricting pitted the two Republicans against one another for the newly redrawn House District 29.
“While this campaign for House District 29 was not as successful as we hoped, I can promise you that I will continue to advocate and work hard to improve the quality of life we enjoy here in Volusia County in whatever capacity God has in store for me next,” Fetterhoff wrote on Facebook. “The opportunity to serve our community in House District 26 for the last four years has been a humbling experience and I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish.”
Barnaby’s victory in the Republican primary will pit him against Democrat Rick Karl in the November general election.
The only other race with margins close enough to trigger a recount was for Seat 4 on the Ponce Inlet Town Council. In that race, Joe Villanella defeated incumbent David Israel by just six votes, following a recount that did not change the Election Day vote totals.
For the full results from the Aug. 23 primary election, visit the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections website, HERE. For more of The Beacon’s election coverage, click HERE.