Chipley- After five hours of vote counting Thursday, an official winner was still undeclared for the Washington County School Board District Three seat.
Tuesday's election between Pam Cates and Milton Brown showed Cates in the lead by seven votes. But, because the difference between the candidates was less than one half of one percent, the two automatically entered a recount.
After a machine and manual recount, Thursday's results deemed Brown the unofficial winner by a margin of eight votes. The Washington County Canvassing Board reevaluated the results and discovered a discrepancy. Further inspection revealed the number of votes one machine counted as an under vote on Tuesday (the ballots in which a voter did not select a candidate) it counted Thursday as a vote for Brown.
Elections Supervisor, Carol Griffin contacted the Division of Elections in Tallahassee to explain the situation. Because it's illegal to do a third recount, the board decided to wait on a ruling from the Division to determine how to declare an official winner. Cates, Brown and Griffin all declined to comment.
Washington County Judge and Canvassing Board Chairman, Colby Peel told us, "As it stands today, we will report the unofficial election results from the machine count and the manual count that we did today. Mr. Brown is currently ahead by approximately eight votes.There's nothing else in the law that allows us to do anything further at this point."
Because the machines do have a margin of error, all of the machines were tested prior to Tuesday's election and Thursday's recount. The board said they would retest the accuracy of the machines again on Friday.