Tavares, FL – In Lake County, about an hour northwest of Orlando, it appeared the November election went off without a hitch. In step with Florida’s more recently gained reputation, votes were counted quickly and without controversy. Or so we thought. Lou Buigas, who ran for a seat on the City Council of Tavares (the seat of Lake County) is not calling foul play, but she is looking to make the facts known.
On election day, she lost to Bob Grenier by 147 votes. According to Buigas, in meetings with Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays, (who she admits has been open and transparent about what he knows concerning the mistakes of this race) at least 39 votes in Precinct 360 were improperly administered. Based on voters’ location of residency, separate ballots are given to those who either live in the county or city limits. 39 of these votes were given to those who did not live in the appropriate jurisdictions.
While Buigas knows that 39 votes would not change the outcome of her election, she is worried, however, that Precinct 360 isn’t the only polling location in which human error occurred.
“It’s not about whether I won or lost, it’s about securing the fairness of the election and the intention of the voters,” said Buigas.
The Floridian reached out to Mr. Hays in which he returned our call for a request for comment, stating, “I only give the facts and the truth,” and provided an official statement concerning this situation.
“Unfortunately, human errors do occur. This is exactly what happened on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 at the Tavares Civic Center polling location. The election worker giving each voter their ballot, mistakenly gave to 39 city voters, a ballot intended only for county voters. Those ballots did not have either of the two City of Tavares City Council candidates listed on them.
Immediately when the Supervisor of Elections learned of the mistakes, a senior staff person was directed to the location. The person making the mistakes was dismissed from duty and replaced by another election worker,” the statement reads.
It would go on to mention that if the 39 votes went the other way, it would not change the outcome of the election. Moreover, the percentage margin of victory was greater than one-half of one percent, and therefore, failed to trigger a recount.
“Our office deeply regrets this error and we certainly have apologized to all the candidates. We also extend to all Lake Countians, our deepest apology, and we shall continue to strive to eliminate all such occurrences. No other precincts in this past election had any such problems reported,” the statement concluded.
This is a developing story.