Recount confirms Caragiulo District 2 City commissioner, vote audit ensures accurate voting

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Anne Larkin/Catalyst

Votes are carefully recounted.

Last Thursday, Mar. 10, Paul Caragiulo was elected District 2 City Commissioner with 1,726 votes, replacing incumbent Dick Clapp in an uncommonly close race. Clapp lost by 11 votes, a margin so small it necessitated a recount. In Florida, if the difference between candidates is half a percent or less, state law requires a machine recount. The recount on Friday yielded identical results with only slightly different numbers—Caragiulo won by 14 votes.

In her 11 years as Supervisor of Elections in Sarasota County, Kathy Dent has only seen two recounts. “It gives you a clear picture that every vote counts…it’s a good civics lesson,” Dent said. Seeing as less than 18% of citizens — an average turnout for city elections in the area — voted in this past election, perhaps it’s a necessary lesson. “People should know how important it is to go to the poll,” Dent deplored.

Aside from the machine recount there was a legally required vote audit on Monday morning, Mar. 14. After the certification of every election, there is a manual recount of the ballots in a random race in a random precinct, just to ensure that the equipment is working properly. A city official chooses a numbered ping-pong ball from a cage — lottery style — to decide which precinct will be manually, meticulously recounted. District 2’s Precinct 11 was chosen this time, coincidentally overlapping with the already mechanically recounted ballots. 4 people recounted 360 ballots, a small sampling of the 3,438 votes cast in the election.

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