UPDATE: Wellington To Seek Hand Recount

Results of the Wellington municipal election may come down to a manual recount after the Wellington Canvassing Board voted Tuesday evening to certify the March 19 recount results subject to a hand recount.

Ken Spillias, attorney for Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, told the board that she would seek action for declaratory relief from the court to be sure she is within legal bounds.

“I would advise her to file, so a judge could rule whether she could do so,” Spilias said.

Councilman Howard Coates initially motioned to certify the most recent results and seat Bob Margolis, John Greene and Matt Willhite.

“What we have to ask is, ‘Have the results presented to us by the Supervisor of Election been corrected?’” he said. “Everything I’m hearing tonight says that they have.”

However, neither Councilwoman Anne Gerwig nor Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Carmine Priore seconded the motion, eliciting jeers from the audience.

Coates amended his motion to certify Monday’s results subject to a hand recount. After some confusion, he clarified that once the recount was completed, an automatic certification would occur negating the need for another meeting.

But Priore was concerned.

“If we certify it automatically and there is a change,” he asked, “what can of worms are we opening?”

Village Attorney Jeff Kurtz explained that only if the hand recount shows that Margolis, Greene and Willhite were the winners would the automatic certification be triggered.

“The certification only becomes affective if the recount confirms [last] Monday’s tally,” he said.

The motion passed 4-0 despite protests and outcry from the crowd.

Bucher is expected to petition a judge before the hand recount can occur, but said that once authorized, a recount could be finished in a day.

The Wellington Canvassing Board meeting was followed by a brief Wellington Village Council meeting with the old council seated, not the new council. Mayor Darell Bowen did not attend, so Vice Mayor Matt Willhite ran the meeting. Nothing controversial was on the agenda.