By Abel Harding
A statewide email questioning the validity of the Jacksonville mayoral election results has no basis in reality, according to the city's top elections official.
"The counting when we got finished is exactly what it is," said Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland. "Was there anything that would change the outcome? Absolutely not."
Holland was responding to an email from First Coast Tea Party leader Billie Tucker, sent Friday morning to statewide leaders in the tea party movement, that sought to cast doubts on the legitimacy of Democrat Alvin Brown's victory.
In the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Times-Union, Tucker blasted GOP attorneys for not "standing up to the thugs and demanding a recount."
Holland, a Republican who has held the post since 2005, said there was no recount because the margin of victory was outside the statutory requirement that would have dictated one.
He said he explained the process to Tucker, whom he called "a friend," in a two-hour phone call Friday morning that sought to assuage her concerns about the counting process, specifically those surrounding the roughly 1,900 absentee and provisional ballots reviewed on Wednesday.
Tucker sent the email anyway. She said she had expected lawyers, dispatched from Tallahassee to review the counting, to put up more of a fight.
"We wanted them to challenge every single vote," she said in an interview later Friday. "The political machine did it and they know what they're doing."
In fact, few objections were raised by either side during Wednesday's counting. Times-Union reporters who observed the process from start to finish could not recall any formal protests lodged by Republican or Democratic observers.
In the email to her followers, Tucker argued that if ballot-by-ballot challenges had been made, "the day of the recount would have been different."
There never was a recount, of course. The margin of victory was wide enough to avoid triggering one.
Tucker eventually said that challenging each vote would have been unlikely to overturn the results. Brown beat Republican Mike Hogan by 1,661 votes - a margin that exceeded the number of votes that were validated in Wednesday's counting.
Holland said Brown's victory was a legitimate win and he maintained full faith in the electoral process and he's willing to answer any questions voters may have about the process.
"Billie," he said, "just wasn't happy with the results.
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2011-05-22/story/duval-elections-supervisor-dismisses-tea-party-leaders-doubts-about#ixzz1NCU1gTlp