Florida election may be decided by a coin toss


TOSS UP: The city of Mount Dora may soon flip a coin to see who will win a city council seat.

By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Long lines, late results and a reputation for narrow margins of victory — there’s no place like Florida during election season.

ELECTION: Florida has a reputation for close races and late results.

With the high-profile governor’s race safely in the books, it seems as though the state escaped major election controversies. That would be true, unless you live in Mount Dora, where a local election could soon be decided by a coin toss.

Yes, a coin toss.

According to election results, as of 1 p.m. Monday, a race for a city council seat was tied.

Nick Girone, the incumbent, received 2,349 votes. So did his challenger, Marie Rich. City council seats are considered nonpartisan.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. More than a dozen ballots are still unaccounted for.

“Right now it’s a tie,” Joyce Martin, chief deputy of the Lake County Supervisor of Elections office, told Watchdog.org. “It’s up to the city of Mount Dora and we don’t know what they’ll do.”

Each of Lake County’s 14 cities is responsible for conducting its own elections. Mount Dora’s city charter calls for a runoff election if a winning candidate receives less than a majority of the total vote.

But with Girone and Rich both sitting at 50 percent each, a single vote could clear a majority. If not, Florida law calls for a coin toss or the drawing of straws to break the stalemate.

There’s still hope for an electoral outcome not based on chance, however. After Monday’s hand recount, 16 military absentee ballots are still unaccounted for, Martin said.

“We’ll know by Friday,” Martin said, referring to the military ballots that were mailed overseas.

Watchdog.org contacted Mount Dora’s city clerk for comment but didn’t immediately receive a response.

Martin said there has been no hint of voter irregularities throughout the election process.