The two candidates whose race was incorrectly omitted from about 2,300 ballots both believe that the way the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Office is handling the situation — mailing out “supplemental ballots” with just that race to those who’d received faulty ones — is the best option.
Candidates Aynne McAvoy and Florence Fruehan are both running for the East Flagler Mosquito Control District 3 race.
“I think the option that was chosen was by far the most simple to understand for everyone,” said McAvoy, 66 and a seven-year Flagler County resident who worked as an EMT and a police officer before she retired.
The Florida Division of Elections had suggested that the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Office not do anything about the roughly 660 early-vote ballots that did not include the race, and that the office mail people who’d voted by mail with an erroneous ballot a new complete ballot, with all of the races.
There were potential problems with both proposed solutions. Disregarding the early vote ballots entirely, said McAvoy, “totally disenfranchises the voters,” while mailing out new ones that include all races “is fraught with peril” because of the risk of ballots being counted twice — or candidates alleging they may have been.
Fruehan, a 57-year-old doctor at Palm Coast Urgent Care who has worked there since 1991, agreed.
Since the error was discovered, Fruehan said, “The election board has handled things on a very professional level.” But, he said, the missing race was “quite an error to be made, since we have a big election coming up.”
“The Canvassing Board — I still have a difficult time understanding that they’d keep us off the ticket,” Fruehan said. “You know what you have to do to become an elected official? You have to submit reports, like every week … I must have gotten 15 telephone calls reminding me to do this, reminding me to do that, but I guess I should have made a call reminding them to put me on the ballot!” he said with a laugh.
Both candidates said they thought the error would draw more attention to the race.
“It may have brought the race forward in people’s consciousness,” McAvoy said. “I’ve always claimed that the Mosquito Control race always gets pushed to the bottom of the ballot or the back of the ballot. At least with this incident … those that were not aware of the Mosquito Control race are kind of being asked to think of it.”
Fruehan said that the error, and the mailing of the supplemental ballots, might change the race by bringing more attention to it among those who receive the ballots, but that those 2,300 ballots are likely not enough to alter the race’s outcome.
“People who might have just passed over it, it’s now going to call attention to the race,” he said. “I think it’s going to change the race quite a bit.” But, he said, “I’m going to accept any outcome. I’m not going to cause any hassle as far as if it’s a close race.”
McAvoy wasn’t ready to say outright that she wouldn’t contest the result. But, she said, “It would be highly doubtful. It would have to be a really close election to even consider that.”
Flagler County Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart said the Elections Office sent out 2,250 “supplemental ballots” Oct. 31 to voters who’s received the faulty ones.
The error affected some voters in precincts 29, 33, 35, which are on the barrier island, and in precincts 9, 23 and 37, which are precincts in which some voters are eligible to vote in the Mosquito Control race, and some aren’t, depending on their address.
About 216 voters affected by the error were voting from overseas and were sent supplemental ballots by email. They will have an extra 10 days to return them.
On Nov. 1, Lenhart said, overall early-voting numbers had surpassed the total numbers of early voting ballots cast in the 2012 general election.
A total of 19,918 people voted early in Flagler County in the 2012 race when there were eight full days of early voting. A total of 20,626 had voted before the polls closed on the afternoon of Nov. 1. Early voting this year began Oct. 24 and ends Nov. 5.
Early voting is being held daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 24 to Nov. 5 at three locations: The Flagler County Public Library at 2500 Palm Coast Parkway NW, the Palm Coast Community Center at 305 Palm Coast Parkway NE and the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Office at 1769 E. Moody Blvd.