TAVARES – Margie Eaton, a candidate for Supervisor of Elections, has contested the primary election results in Lake County after losing to Alan Hays by less than 1 percent of the vote on a night where a countywide computer glitch occurred in the vote tabulation.

Eaton filed a petition with the Lake County Circuit Court on Friday asking for a hand recount of the 31,028 total ballots cast in the three-way race.

When all votes were tabulated, Hays finished with 12,973 votes, or 41.81 percent of the vote to Eaton’s 12,700 votes, or 40.93 percent, and Holland’s 5,355 votes, or 17.26 percent.

After the election, Emogene Stegall, Lake County’s longtime Supervisor of Elections, said that the race did not qualify for a recount because the difference was not less than a half percent.

She also pointed out that a glitch has never occurred during her tenure.

Eaton said that’s even more reason for a hand count.

“This is not about Ms. Stegall. This is not about Alan Hays and this is not about me. It’s about the people’s votes,” Eaton said. “I know the tally doesn’t qualify for an automatic recount, but we had a major system malfunction.”

“I’ve had hundreds, and that’s not an exaggeration, of people call me, asking if there’s going to be some kind of recount because they have their doubts about the count too. There comes a time when people want to know if their votes were counted correctly.”

In the court documents, Eaton is listed as the petitioner. The respondents are listed as Stegall, the Lake County Florida Canvassing Board and Hays.

In the petition, Eaton said that she received calls from two people “who led her to believe” they were poll workers at two different precincts, letting her know that the machines that accept ballots had stopped doing so and that the ballots were being counted by hand.

“This would bring into question at what point on election day did the machines fail to accurately accept the ballots and if the results were properly conveyed to the thumb drives,” the petition reads.

Eaton also pointed out that she was ahead after early votes and mail-in votes and all the way up until the final few precincts and that eye witnesses reported seeing trucks arriving at the elections office prior to the polls closing and boxes being unloaded.

On election night, Stegall told The Daily Commercial that the vote totals transmitted successfully but did not "accumulate" due to a software glitch. So election workers had to collect the vote totals from polling place machines, load them on thumb drives and transport them by car to the central elections office in Tavares. There, they were uploaded to the computer and tabulated.

Eaton, on Tuesday said she just wants to make sure procedures were followed properly and that all votes were counted.

“Petitioner believes there was no nefarious activity by the Supervisor of Elections office regarding the results of the election, but wants to be assured of the validity of the election held August 30, 2016,” say documents.

Stegall, from her office on Tuesday, said she cannot comment on the matter based on advice from her attorney.

Eaton, who paid $400 to file the petition, said she wonders whether she should retain an attorney, adding that she is hoping for a quick resolution on the matter since the general election is right around the corner.