INDIAN SHORES – After machine and manual recounts, only one vote separates two candidates vying for a seat on the Indian Shores Council during the March 11 municipal election.
According to the unofficial results posted on the Supervisor of Elections website election night, Michael “Mike” Petruccelli defeated Diantha Schear by only two votes. Petruccelli received 315 votes, 32.81 percent. Diantha Schear brought in 313 votes, 32.60 percent. A third candidate, Patrick Soranno garnered 332 votes, 34.62 percent. Soranno will fill one of two open slots.
Voters were asked to choose two of three new names as replacements for retiring Indian Shores Councilors Carole Irelan and Steve Sutch. Nearly 51 percent of the town’s 1,190 registered voters took part in the election.
Pinellas County Elections Administrator Nancy Whitlock said state law requires a machine recount when a candidate is defeated by less than 1/2 percent. In races, with a difference of a 1/4 percent a manual recount is required.
The Elections Office announced March 12 that the Canvassing Board would conduct a machine recount and a manual recount for the town of Indian Shores. Results of those counts done March 14 showed a difference of only one vote with Petruccelli still in the lead, 315 to 314.
The Canvassing Board also canvassed provisional and write-in votes and certified unofficial results, which will be certified March 21, after the 10-day period for overseas ballots has passed.
Whitlock explained the machine recount process Friday afternoon. The ballots are processed on the same-type machine used the night of the election. Ballots that were scanned using a precinct scanner are processed again, recounted, using a precinct scanner. Mail ballots are processed a second time using a high-speed M650 scanner.
The Canvassing Board manually checks ballots that are “out stacked,” which happens with blanks or, in the case of Indian Shores where two votes were allowed, ballots with votes for more than two, an “over-vote,” and ballots with less votes than allowed. The Canvassing Board found 336 under-votes during the manual recount.