Last week’s Wellington municipal election might not be over.
In what officials are calling an unprecedented anomaly, a routine audit of the election revealed that votes might have been tallied improperly by computers when the results were initially counted.
Candidates are currently awaiting the results of a recount, expected to be finished about 7 p.m.
“In reviewing the computer programming, we established the election using the sequence of Mayor, Seat 1 and Seat 4,” explained Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher in a press release this afternoon. “The computer program auto generates ballots styles and scanner programming. In reviewing the automatically generated sequence, the computer program inadvertently changed the sequence of the races to Seat 1, Seat 4 and Mayor; therefore, the counting of the scanner cartridges on election night were not reflective of the actual voted ballots. This is why we conduct the post-election audits.”
Members of the Wellington Canvassing Board — consisting of Wellington Councilwoman Anne Gerwig, Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Carmine Priore, Councilman Howard Coates, Village Clerk Awilda Rodriguez and Supervisor of Elections Bucher — met Monday evening to discuss the matter.
Gerwig, Bucher and Rodriguez were auditing the election Monday afternoon when they discovered the discrepancy.
“The total number of votes cast were the same,” Gerwig told the Town-Crier, “but they weren’t the same numbers that were on the official certification.”
The results of the election were certified by Bucher’s office Friday.
Village Attorney Jeff Kurtz requested that the canvassing board delay a decision on the matter.
“Election statutes do not specifically address this issue,” he said, noting that the Supervisor of Elections cannot un-certify a certified election. “We are in an unfortunate situation. There does not seem to be authority for the Supervisor of Elections or the Canvassing Board to undo the certification.”
But Gerwig said that even if they can’t un-certify the election, she wanted to know the actual results. “The certification is not my concern,” she said. “I want the data.”
Priore agreed. “Don’t tell me I can’t [order a recount] just because the law doesn’t say I can,” he said.
Kurtz worried that if the board did not have the authority to order the recount, it could be thrown out.
But board members felt it was part of the audit to investigate discrepancies.
The board voted unanimously to order a recount, which is expected to be complete around 7 p.m.