‘Mr. Mike, I got you’; Scott eeks out win in drama-filled recount in Orange County

·3 min read

It was the quintessential example of “every vote matters.”

Three days after voters went to the polls to choose a new slate of Orange County Commissioners, District 6 citizens still didn’t know who would appear on the November ballot to replace outgoing Commissioner Victoria Siplin.

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Community activist Lawanna Gelzer scored a spot by several hundred votes, but the role of her opponent was up for grabs. After the first unofficial results were in, community activist Mike Scott earned one more vote than fellow community activist Cynthia Harris.

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The two candidates, their teams and attorneys met at the county election headquarters Friday afternoon to begin the recount process that would determine who came out on top. Following the trend set by other Florida elections, the process came with its twists and turns.

Hours into the recount, Harris scored an extra vote, placing the two candidates in a tie, which would mean the election would be decided by drawing a name out of a hat.

However, Scott picked up an extra vote when an uncounted ballot was discovered hidden under others in one of the boxes, again setting up the narrowest of leads.

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After an unspecified issue called for an additional check of early in-person votes, the results came in: unofficially, Scott beat Harris by six votes, a difference of 0.0009%.

Earlier in the day, Scott credited his advantage over Harris to a phone call he made to a teen he mentored on Election Day. Scott said he asked the teen if he had gone to the polls, to which the teen replied that he didn’t know it was Election Day.

“Mr. Mike, I got you,” Scott recalled the teen telling him.

A few minutes later, Scott said the teen texted him a picture of his “I Voted” sticker.

“If I think of one supporter, I think of him,” Scott said.

Combined, Scott and Harris received approximately 6,300 votes – a low turnout for District 6, which encompasses much of the majority-Black west side of Orlando. Constituents of that district more likely to believe the county government doesn’t represent them well enough, a problem picked up by both candidates.

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“Voting is the most powerful asset that we have,” Harris said. “This is the time where you’re the CEO, you hire and fire.”

Harris and her attorney did not fully commit to accepting the results Saturday morning, leaving the door open to a court challenge. The results will remain unofficial until they are certified.

Still, election officials noted, the careful recounting process that stretched into the wee hours of the morning should provide assurance that the accuracy of elections in Orange County is sound.

Plus, the miniscule difference between the two underscored the fact that every vote matters in every contest.

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“A lot of voters sit back and say, well wait and see what the head-to-head competition is in November,” Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles noted. “They really may have lost their chance in some contests by skipping this election.”

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