After machine and manual recounts Friday of nearly 12,000 ballots for a state House race, Jay Fant is declared winner of the Republican primary for state House District 15 by two votes.
A machine recount in the morning came up with the same three-vote margin. A manual recount then ordered by the secretary of state that began about 2 p.m. has narrowed the margin to two votes, and that was the final count.
Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland declared Fant the winner.
"We're tremendously gratified to have won," Fant (in left on photo, below) told News4Jax. "We've been feeling this way since Tuesday, but waiting to be confirmed. (I'm) awfully impressed with supervisor 's office."
Fant was all smiles after a rollercoaster few days waiting for the final recount.
“Election night as close as it was, was still a thrill, because you don't know if you're going to be ahead in these races or not. And I realized that the voters had put me up a bit, and I was very grateful for that,” Fant said. “I was not lamenting that we had a recount. I was celebrating the fact that I was in a position to win this race. I've been excited about that ever since.”
Florida law allows recounts if the margin is less than one-quarter of one percent, which in this race is about 30 votes.
“It was two votes, so I had an extra vote. I gotta tell you, if we've learned anything, it's that Jerry Holland's office knows what they're doing,” Fant said. “They run those machines again and they get the exact same result.”
"I want to congratulate Jay Fant on winning a hard-fought campaign and wish him every success in the state Legislature," Renner said in a statement. "I will continue to look for opportunities to serve our great community. I especially want to thank the hundreds of supporters who worked tirelessly on behalf of our campaign. They can all take pride in their efforts, and I look forward to serving with them in the future to strengthen our community."
The seat is open because Rep. Daniel Davis did not seek re-election. With only write-in opponents in November, the winner of the primary is almost assured of becoming a new member of the Legislature.
News4Jax political analyst Jennifer Carroll said if this election had happened in years past this recount likely would not have gone as smoothly.
“When we had the punch card ballot, it would take a longer time to recount and the ambiguity would fall into play,” Carroll said. “With the electronic system there is clarity who the person intended to vote for.”
Sam Hall advances to School Board District 2 runoff
A machine recount of the Duval County School Board District 2 race gave challenger Sam Hall one additional vote over Theresa Graham -- now a four-vote margin -- for second-place finish in a race that will require a recount with Scott Shine in November. At completion of the recount, Holland said Hall will be in the General Election with Shine.
In nine years running elections in Jacksonville, Holland said these are the closes to votes he's ever seen.
"We really took out time; we made sure every voted was counted," Holland said. "When you got races -- two votes; four votes -- I assure you that the candidates have friends that will wish they voted in this election.
Four machines began recounting ballots at 10 a.m. Friday and finished just before 1 p.m. Under Florida law, if the margin between the candidates is less than one-quarter of 1 percent -- about 30 votes in this case -- a hand recount is required. Canvassing board members examined any ballots which the machine could not determine a vote.
The final results were announced just before 5 p.m.