Martino: Run-off Election Warranted for Group 4!

Primary Election Day, March 15, 2016, with its winners and losers has come and gone. But in Palm Beach County “gone” is never a certainty in our peculiarly run elections. This time the black cloud of uncertainty is stationary over Palm Beach Gardens.

The hullabaloo is two-fold. First, Takeata King in Group 2 and Kevin Easton in Group 4 withdrew their respective candidacies prior to March 15th but not in time to have their names removed from the printed ballots, thus, requiring all polling precincts to post notices advising the voters of the withdrawals which, allegedly, did not occur. Second, the tabulation of the Group 4 election results is mired in a cloud of ambiguity because no candidate received a majority of the votes cast as the City Charter (Sec. 26-6) requires, thus, a runoff election, again, per the City Charter is required. The votes cast in the Gardens’ two races are as follows…

Is the omission of the notices to the voters of the Candidates withdrawals enough to upset the elections in the Group 2 race? Probably not, but with the closeness of the tally in Group 4, probably yes? From my perspective, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, as well as, the City Clerk of Palm Beach Gardens, should answer for this oversight and issue a public statement as to cause and ultimate effect on the election results.

The more egregious and obvious election controversy is the need for a runoff in Group 4 as the City Charter clearly articulates. Section 26-6(b) of the Charter declares…

“Whenever a general or special election is held to fill any elective office in the city, the candidate receiving a majority of the votes cast at such election to fill such office shall be declared to be duly elected; provided that if no candidate for a particular elective office shall receive a majority of the votes cast for such election to fill such office, then a run-off election shall be held on the fourth Tuesday in March of the same calendar year the general election was held; and in the event a special election is held, except for the year 2016, when any required runoff election shall be held on the fifth Tuesday of March, and a run-off election is required, then the run-off election shall be held two weeks from date of the original special election; provided further, that in such event only the names of the two candidates having received the greatest number of votes in the general or special election for such office shall be submitted to the voters and the one of these two receiving the majority number of votes in such run-off election shall be declared to be duly elected to such office;

In my opinion, the key words in the charter section, above, is votes cast. Clearly the votes cast in Group 4 do not render any candidate a majority of the votes cast, therefore, a runoff election to decide the winner is mandatory. Runoff elections have been required before in the Gardens. Anything less than a runoff election is a charter violation, an injustice to the candidates, disrespects the voters, and leaves the Group 4 election suspect.

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