Woods calls for runoff in Palm Beach Gardens City Council race

David Levy and Carl Woods ran for the Group 4 seat on Palm Beach Gardens City Council. Courtesy photos

David Levy and Carl Woods ran for the Group 4 seat on Palm Beach Gardens City Council. Courtesy photos

A retired Palm Beach Gardens police officer who challenged the incumbent vice mayor in his bid for re-election is demanding a runoff in the race.

Carl Woods’ campaign manager, Brian Smith, sent two cease and desist notices Tuesday afternoon. One demanded Palm Beach Gardens Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher not certify a winner and set a run-off election for March 29. The other calls on Palm Beach Gardens Clerk Patricia Snider to avoid swearing in David Levy as councilman.

At issue is that at least two polling places didn’t have notices posted informing voters that a third candidate, Kevin Easton, had dropped out of the race after the ballots were printed. Easton, who encouraged his supporters to back Woods, secured more than 1,000 votes.

Levy secured about 400 more votes than Woods, according to unofficial results. Both had over 6,000 votes.

Bucher has said only two polling places were affected, and notice was posted at both by noon. The notice stated votes for Levy and Woods will count but votes for Easton would not. It also ran as a legal ad in The Palm Beach Post and on Palm Beach Gardens’ elections page on the city website.

Two attorneys said they didn’t know of any requirement in the law for Bucher to provide them at the polls.

Palm Beach Gardens’ charter states that a candidate must get the majority of the votes cast to be considered elected. Woods’ campaign is saying that should include the votes cast for Easton, because even though they don’t count, they were cast.

The majority is considered 50 percent plus one vote. If no candidate has a clear majority, the City Charter calls for a runoff election.

Bucher’s office doesn’t count votes for Easton and Takeata King Pang, who withdrew from a race for a different seat after the ballots were printed.

Tallahassee-based attorneys said Wednesday that Woods could have an uphill fight contesting the election, because the provisions for doing so in Florida law are fairly specific. Contests can be filed within 10 days after the results are certified.

Woods’ campaign is demanding Bucher stop all activities related to the certification of Levy as winner.

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Reasons for contesting an election are:

(a) Misconduct, fraud, or corruption on the part of any election official or any member of the canvassing board sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the election.

(b) Ineligibility of the successful candidate for the nomination or office in dispute.

(c) Receipt of a number of illegal votes or rejection of a number of legal votes sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the election.

(d) Proof that any elector, election official, or canvassing board member was given or offered a bribe or reward in money, property, or any other thing of value for the purpose of procuring the successful candidate’s nomination or election or determining the result on any question submitted by referendum.

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