At face value the Republican primary in Santa Rosa County for the Board of Commissioners District 2 nomination looked like any other primary race. Until you noticed that both candidates were incumbent commissioners. Bob Cole is the sitting commissioner in district 2 and is running for his fourth term on the board. Jim Melvin is the current district 4 commissioner, but because of redistricting he now lives in district 2, so to seek a second term on the board he had to run against Cole. Take those circumstances, add an extremely low voter turnout and you get a very close election.
Tappie Villane, Supervisor of Elections in Santa Rosa County says the election is still too close to call with all the ballots counted. Right now, Bob Cole leads Jim Melvin by 65 votes. That's out of over 13, 241 ballots cast. Early voting and absentee ballots are included in that number, but provisional ballots are not.
Villane says that on Friday the provisional ballots will be tallied and an unofficial total will be announced. If the margin of the race is one half of a percentage point or less, then Florida statute mandates a recount. As it stands, Cole currently leads Melvin by exactly that margin. If the provisional ballots increase Cole's margin than he will be declared the winner. If the margin remains the same or shrinks, then the canvassing board will come up with a schedule for the recount. After any recount, a second set of unofficial results must be reported to the state by this Sunday.
But wait, there's more. If after the automatic recount is complete the margin of victory is one quarter of one percent, then a manual recount will be held.
Villane says she has been in contact with both candidates keeping them up to date on the results and the process. For his part, Bob Cole expects the results to remain the same. He says Melvin called him election night to congratulate him on his narrow victory.
Whoever finally emerges as the Republican candidate will not have long to celebrate. He'll take on unaffiliated candidate Wallis Mahute in the general election in November. Democratic candidate Kristopher Long withdrew from the race in May for personal reasons.