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One-Vote Margin as Alvarado-Williams Race Heads to Likely Recount, Possible Coin-Toss

Automatic Machine Recount is Triggered by Margin under One-half Percent

The startling result of the District 2 City Commission election as tabulated by the Supervisor of Elections is expected to result in a careful examination of a handful of rejected and provisional ballots that could tip the election, according to sources reached Tuesday night by Lake Wales News.

The unofficial results left incumbent Daniel Williams leading challenger Brandon Alvarado by one vote, 939 to 938. A second challenger, Crystal Higbee, ran a distant third, gathering 347 votes, or 15.6%. The Lake Wales City Charter makes no provisions for a run-off election.

News file photo

Challenger Brandon Alvarado was left a single vote behind incumbent Daniel Williams in unofficial vote totals in the race for the District 2 seat on the Lake Wales City Commission in voting Tuesday. Several provisional ballots remain to be counted.

News file photo

Incumbent City Commissioner Daniel Williams was clinging to a one-vote lead in the unofficial tally of votes in the District 2 commission election Tuesday. Williams won the seat in 2021 with a 15-vote margin in 2021.

In the unofficial total, Williams saw his large early lead dissolve as the tally continued, leaving him up by only a single vote. The results are the closest yet in any city election, although Williams was elected in 2021 by defeating Dr. Ricardo Navarro by just 15 votes, 942 to 927.

Statistically, the vote results in Tuesday's election leave a difference between the leaders of just .04 percent. Florida statutes call for a machine recount if the winning margin is less than one-half of one percent.

An election official who spoke with the News but asked to remain unidentified said that during the tally there were at least two provisional ballots that remain uncounted due to doubts about the identity or residence of the voter. Another half-dozen mail ballots were initially rejected due to signatures that were not close matches. One unsigned mail ballot was also received.

Voters have a short window of opportunity after the election to visit the office of the supervisor to "cure" a defective ballot. Any voter who would like to confirm that their vote has been received and counted may go to PolkElections.org or call the Supervisor of Elections office at (863) 534-5888. Voters have until 5 p.m. Thursday to correct their ballot.

Commissioner Williams sent a statement to Lake Wales News saying that he was "excited about the possibility to represent the citizens of Lake Wales another term. If for any reason the official results go to Brandon Alvarado, I believe we will be okay too," Williams added. "He seems like a conscientious young man and with experience he should be a good asset for the city commission and the citizens of Lake Wales."

Reached by telephone, Alvarado commented only that he was "excited" and "proud of my team."

Some 2,224 voters cast accepted ballots in the race. The handful of uncounted ballots will be reviewed by a committee on Wednesday to determine if they will be accepted. After that process, a machine recount is expected to take place.

It is also possible that a candidate or other official may call for a hand recount of all ballots in the election.

In the event of a tie after all votes are counted, the election would be decided by a flip of a coin.

A total of 2,308 voted in the District 4 race between Carol Gillespie and Danny Krueger, which saw Gillespie defeat the incumbent by 342 votes, the largest margin of victory in a city election in the past few cycles. The voter total means that at least 84 voters failed to cast ballots in the District 2 race.

 

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