Ballot count will resume at 10 a.m.; recount expected in Clemens-Bernard raceby Andrew Abramson | August 15th, 2012
After waiting for hours to learn his fate, Mack Bernard will have to wait at least eight more hours to learn whether or not he defeated Jeff Clemens for a State Senate seat. And even then, both Bernard and Clemens will likely have to wait a few more days until the race is settled.
With all the absentee ballots counted, and about 100 provisional ballots remaining, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher suspended the count just after 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. This count will resume at 10 a.m.
“Everybody’s tired,” Bucher said.
Clemens is up just 35 votes on fellow state representative Bernard out of more than 24,000 votes (50.07 percent to 49.93 percent). Both sides said it looks like a recount, which is required when a race is within half a percentage point.
Clemens thought he had the race won when all of the precincts were counted and he was up about 1.5 percent. But while Clemens was celebrating at The Cottage in Lake Worth, Bernard and his consultants came to the tabulation center in Riviera Beach, convinced that the gap would be narrowed once absentee and provisional ballots were counted.
Although some absentee ballots were counted early Tuesday evening, absentee ballots that arrived the last two days were counted after the precinct counts were completed. Bernard said his campaign did a huge outreach in the Haitian community which led to many late absentee ballots. He also believes provisional ballots are to his advantage because some first-time Haitian voters might have gone to the wrong precinct.
Clemens didn’t come to the tabulation center but sent several consultants who waited hours for the results. It is unclear whether Clemens will come at 10 a.m.
Bernard said he doesn’t mind waiting although he said he likely won’t sleep.
“It’s fine,” Bernard said. “We just want to make sure everyone who voted has an opportunity for their voices to be heard. A lot of Haitian voters were voting for the first time and we want to make sure they got it right.”
Bucher said she’s expecting a recount, which she said likely won’t begin until the weekend.
“We still have to verify all the write-ins, certify the other races, and soon as we can clear that we’ll star focusing on the recount,” Bucher said.
Bernard’s campaign said it believes a recount will benefit Bernard because it might pick up errors.
“We had a lot of first time voters, and many had never used this ballot style before,” Giorgio said.
Cesar Fernandez, consultant for Clemens, said he doesn’t think a recount would necessarily benefit either side.
“We just have to be patient,” Fernandez said.