By reversing an election result in Palm Beach Gardens, has a judge opened a can of worms for future contests?
That election for a city council seat had seemed settled on March 15, but now, a full two months later, we learn that it’s going for a replay.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Martin Colin ruled on Wednesday that incumbent David J. Levy, who had been certified the winner and sworn in for another term, must face his challenger Carl Woods in a runoff. The date for that is yet to be determined.
Colin ruled that the votes for a third candidate, Kevin Easton, were “improperly discounted.” As a result, the vote total should have read: Levy 6,642; Woods 6,256; Easton 1,103. That means that no one got a majority of the the 15,970 votes cast, Colin determined. And the town’s ordinances say that “the candidate receiving the majority of the votes cast” shall be declared winner of any municipal election.
Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher earlier had said that Easton’s votes were stricken because he had ended his candidacy. “Mr. Easton withdrew from the race in writing on 2/6/16,” she said in an email to the Post Editorial Board. This is unlike situations in which a candidate suspends the campaign, as in the Florida presidential primary. There, votes for sidelined candidates like Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee were counted.
Richard Giorgio, a campaign consult for Levy, said Wednesday that Colin’s ruling “would have dramatic implications, not only for Palm Beach County, but possibly for the whole state of Florida.”
We’ll have to see if more drama ensues from this. As if this never-ending election cycle didn’t already have twists and turns already.
Woods and his attorney Brian W. Smith had also asserted that Levy was ineligible to run in the first place, because he violated the city’s term-limits rule. But Colin turned that argument aside.