Finally, Wellington’s vote-counting debacle is over. Last Saturday’s hand recount put to rest any remaining questions about who won the March 13 municipal election: Bob Margolis, Matt Willhite and John Greene. After a post-election audit revealed that the initial results were incorrectly tallied, what had already been an extremely tense election turned even more ill-tempered, with widespread disagreement over how to handle the situation and multiple lawsuits filed.
Some wanted the original winners seated on a technicality, while others demanded that the winners of the March 19 machine recount be seated immediately even while doubts lingered in the minds of a significant minority. Still, others — including the Town-Crier — called for a hand recount, arguing that it was the only way to settle the matter and move forward.
We commend the Wellington Canvassing Board for deciding to go through with the recount, as well as Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Robin Rosenberg for swiftly making the recount a reality and allowing an impartial group of county workers to examine each ballot as campaign representatives looked on.
In our March 23 editorial calling for the hand recount, we argued that Wellington cannot take four years of a significant minority questioning the legitimacy of the council. However, had the March 13 results been left in place, there would be much more than a significant minority doubting the council’s legitimacy. Last Saturday’s hand count of the nearly 6,000 ballots was exactly what needed to happen to give the soon-to-be-seated council its governing legitimacy.
We’re glad that the process wasn’t drawn out too long, but more important, we’re pleased that it was resolved definitively, rather than left to linger in the backs of people’s minds. What happened last Saturday was exactly what was required in order to move forward from this debacle. It happened in such a way so that it is clear to both sides what the outcome was, and now the council can get on with the business of governing Wellington.
The candidates who were found to have lost their races have conceded, and now we need to figure out how to move forward together as a community and heal the deep wounds that this particularly nasty election season has caused. Wellington has enough real-world issues to deal with over the next four years and will need a strong council to properly address them. The election is now in the past. Now it’s time to start tackling those issues and for both sides to move forward as a unified community.