A few glitches, some surprises as Volusia voters go to polls
FROM STAFF REPORTS
The 2012 primary election in Volusia County came and went with mixed results. A new Daytona Beach mayor was not determined, incumbent school board member Al Williams hung on to his seat, the race for Volusia County Chair took an unexpected turn, and several hundred absentee voter voter ballots were not counted.
350 ballots rejected
According to the Volusia County Department of Elections, 350 absentee ballots received for the Aug. 4 primary were rejected by its canvassing board.
County Council members Joie Alexander and Joyce Cusack along with Judge David Foxman made up the canvassing board for the primary.
Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall said the board was “very, very lenient” when it came to disqualifying ballots but absentee ballots with no signatures and signatures that did not match the signature on file had to be rejected.
McFall acknowledged that in a couple of the county council races and a race in Ponce Inlet, the Daytona Beach Zone 1 Commission race and the Holly Hill mayor race the results could have had different outcomes if the ballots had been allowed to be counted. However, none of the 350 were tabulated.
The elections supervisor was not allowed to sit on the canvassing board because she was a candidate for re-election. She won re-election with 66 percent of the vote, defeating three challengers – Andy Kelly, Teresa Apgar and Beaulah Blanks.
McFall will return to the canvassing board for the Nov. 6 general election.
“I think that the voters just didn’t see any reason not to keep me in office. I was surprised that there won’t be a runoff. Often candidates spend so much time and money on primaries hoping to finish at least in the top two and run out by the municipal election. We spent a lot but thankfully we don’t have the runoff.”
Absentee ballots key to election
In Volusia, 23,804 absentee ballots were accepted; 41,036 had been requested. The absentee ballots made a big difference in a number of races, especially the Daytona Beach mayor’s race. The absentee ballots, along with early votes, gave current Daytona Commissioner Edith Shelley a comfortable lead, which she maintained as votes from Tuesday were added to them.
Shelley received a total of 3,539 followed by Derrick Henry with 3,045. The two will face each other in a run-off on Nov. 6. Mayoral candidate Gwen Azama-Edwards received 1,685 votes while Fred Hoffmann garnered 659.
No ‘block vote’
Daytona Beach Black residents’ votes were spread about among the four candidates – two Blacks and two Whites.
It appears Bethune-Cookman University Political Science Professor Randy Jackson’s conclusion in last week’s paper proved true.
“The Black community has become more independent. They vote on issues. They (Blacks) don’t block-vote anymore,” Bethune-Cookman University Political Science Professor Randy Jacobs told the Daytona Times.
The number of Blacks in Daytona Beach voting Nov. 6 will increase because President Barack Obama will be on the ballot and because more than 3,000 B-CU students will be back in town to participate in the voting process.
Of the students, 1,200 are freshman and are required to live on campus. Therefore if registered, they can vote in the Daytona Beach election.
Splitting the vote?
The mayoral race, which had a margin of 494 votes between the top two contenders, was largely decided on by the Black vote.
“It was a couple of hundred votes, but in the general election there will be a larger turnout with there being a presidential election,” stated Henry.
Henry said he believed voters sought out the best person for the job and did not necessarily vote along color lines, adding that he did not know whether he or Azama-Edwards, the other Black candidate split the Black vote.
“I don’t know (if the Black vote was split). I think that people were trying to vote for the best candidate. I think Gwen was an excellent candidate and appealed to many voters. I don’t think people are voting along racial lines. I think that I have the most to offer with my record of service in the community,” he responded.
By the numbers
An analysis of the polling locations in predominantly Black areas of the city revealed that Henry received the most Black votes followed by Azama-Edwards. Shelley also received a number of Black votes. In at least one precinct, she received more Black votes than Azama-Edwards.
At Living Faith World Ministries, Henry received 468; Azama-Edwards, 196, and Shelley 131. At the Westside Baptist Church on Mason Avenue, Henry had 403; Azama-Edwards 158 and Shelley 107.
The numbers were similar at the precincts of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, B-CU Center for Civic Engagement and the John H. Dickerson Center. At the Dickerson Center, Henry received 429 votes, Azama-Edwards 206 and Shelley 162.
Shelley dominated the predominantly White-populated areas of the city, especially on the beach side.
At the Schnebly Recreation Center on A1A, Shelley received 614 votes followed by Henry with 241, Azama Edwards with 135 and 116 for Fred Hoffman. At Community United Methodist Church on Harvey Avenue, Shelley received 270; Henry 101, Azama- Edwards 73 and Hoffman 43.
Although Shelley received the majority of the votes in predominantly White areas of the city, Henry was not too far behind at many of the polling places. At the Beville Road Church, Shelley had 329; Henry 288, Azama-Edwards 139 and Hoffman 52. At the City Island Library, Shelley blew the others away obtaining 425 votes; Henry 56, Azama-Edwards 44 and Hoffman 25.
Henry did the best at precincts located in Zone 5, which he represented before resigning the position last year. This played a major factor in him placing second behind Shelley.
TROUBLE AT THE POLLS
• Police presence occurred at the Dickerson Center on Tuesday. Attorneys asked a Daytona Beach police officer who showed up to leave (per state law), which was obliged by the officer.
• Fifteen of the memory cards in ballot counters failed across Volusia County on Election Day, an unusually high number. Each card was quickly replaced and did not affect voting results.
• A bomb scare occurred at a Deltona precinct. The Volusia County bomb squad was called when an unattended box was found in the building. The box was removed and taken away by the bomb squad. An evacuation was considered but did not occur.
HEADED TO A RUNOFF
Many races were not decided in the primary election and will face a run-off. These include five Volusia County council seats, Daytona Beach mayor, a commission seat and county Chair.
• County Chair: Former District 4 Councilman Carl Persis captured 40 percent of the vote and Jason Davis, a Gulf War veteran received 33 percent.
• Daytona Beach Mayor: Current Zone 2 Commissioner Edith Shelley led a race of four capturing 40 percent of the votes and former Zone 5 Commissioner Derrick Henry followed with 34 percent.
• District 1 County Council: Former councilman and State Rep. Pat Patterson led a field of five candidates, with 34 percent of the vote. He was followed by Jeff Allebach at 24 percent.
• District 2 County Council: Incumbent Josh Wagner won 45 percent, followed by Nancy Epps with 37 percent.
• District 3 County Council: New Smyrna Beach City Commissioner Jim Hathaway led with 36.2 percent, a close finish to Deb Denys, who captured 35.6 percent.
• District 4 County Council: Ormond Beach attorney Doug Daniels captured 37 percent of the vote. A pending review of provisional ballots will determine his opponent as both Shannon McLeish and Jay Young both captured 26 percent of the vote.
• District 5 County Council: Incumbent Councilwoman Pat Northey captured 48 percent of the vote and will challenge Rich Gailey, who received 30 percent.
• Zone 1 City Commission: Carl Lentz IV captured 46 percent of the vote while Ruth Trager received 44 percent.
• Incumbent School Board member Al Williams captured 52 percent of the vote while political newcomer Ida Duncan-Wright scored 48 percent.
• Sitting County Court Judge Group 8 Bryan Feigenbaum scooted by with 50.6 percent of the vote against opponent Michael McDermott, who missed the win with 49.4 percent.
Andreas Butler, James Harper and Ashley Thomas all contributed to this report.