TAVARES – A Lake County judge will not grant a recount to a Supervisor of Elections candidate who narrowly lost in the August 30 primary.

Margie Eaton, one of the candidates in the three-way race, said her challenge was thrown out because it did not meet the criteria in state law.

Eaton lost to Alan Hays, who finished with 12,973 votes or 41.81 percent, to her 12,700 votes (40.93 percent) and Michael Holland’s 5.355 votes (17.26 percent).

The difference between Hays and Eaton was .88 percent.

Eaton said she is disappointed in the decision of Judge Lawrence J. Semento and insisted that voters will never have peace of mind or faith in the voting system in this case.

“In order for a manual re-count, you have to prove there was bribery, that your opponent was not qualified or that there were inappropriate actions that occurred. The criteria doesn’t say anything about failure of equipment which, during the primaries, did occur,” Eaton said. “All we want to know is that all the votes were counted and that they were counted correctly.”

“People, including Emogene (Stegall) and Alan Hays, talk about the integrity of and the people’s trust in the vote, so I think they could have backed that up by saying, “Sure, no big deal, let’s have a recount considering all that happened that night.”

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.

Stegall and the Lake County Florida Elections Canvassing Board admit that an error occurred with Elections Results Manager software but argued in court papers that a hand re-count of the ballots “would be unduly burdensome on the Elections Office and costly for the taxpayers of Lake County and that the state statute does not provide for a hand re-count of the ballots as a remedy.

The response also says that the ballots for the November 8 general election have already been submitted for printing at a cost of $62,000.

Eaton said that in a meeting at the Supervisor of Elections Office Wednesday with information technology employees with the county, she was told that the “glitch” on election night was due to the computer software used in the voting machines not being updated for the last 14 years.

On Thursday afternoon however, Stegall said the software has been used for 14 years but that the current version of it was installed on June 4, 2010 and is still certified.

“I am pleased that it (request for hand re-count) was dismissed and we are moving forward with the general election,” Stegall said.