When the dust settled on Lee County’s 2022 municipal primary on Tuesday night, Ken Britton led Mark Akinosho in the race for the Sanford City Council Ward 1 Democratic nomination by just three votes. Britton, a corporate strategist, had 245 votes to 242 for Akinosho, a pastor, business owner and former chairman of the Lee County Board of Education.
Vote totals reported on Election Day aren’t official, though, until the county Board of Elections can conduct a canvass to certify the result on May 27. And with two days left for absentee ballots to trickle in, the razor thin margin between Britton and Akinosho could still change.
One thing at this point is certain: Provisional ballots – votes cast by people about whom there is some question of eligibility, and counted only when their eligibility is confirmed – will not have any impact on the outcome. Lee County Elections Director Jane Rae Fawcett told The Rant on Wednesday that only 14 provisional ballots were cast in the 2022 Lee County primary. Of those, 13 were cast on the Republican side and one was cast by a Democrat who wasn’t registered in west Sanford-based Ward 1.
That said, “supplemental absentee ballots” have until 5 p.m. on Friday to arrive at the Board of Elections, so long as they’re postmarked May 17 or earlier. It’s unknown how many of those supplemental ballots remain outstanding in the Ward 1 race, and it’s not uncommon for absentee ballots to be requested and never returned.
Whether the three vote margin changes or not, a recount is likely. State law dictates that candidates “may demand a recount if the difference between the votes … is one percent or less.” As of Tuesday night’s results, the difference between Britton and Akinosho is .62 percent.
Asked Wednesday via text whether he planned to ask for a recount, Akinosho replied “absolutely,” but couldn’t be reached for further comment.
According to state law, a recount must be requested in writing to the county board of elections by 5 p.m. on May 31, the first business day after canvass,
Britton told The Rant that the close margin “shocked” him, but that he was looking ahead to July, when the winner of the Ward 1 primary will face Republican Blaine Sutton. Ward 1 is being vacated by Democrat Sam Gaskins, who was defeated in the mayoral primary on Tuesday by Ward 5 Councilwoman Rebecca Wyhof Salmon.
“We all hear the phrases ‘every vote counts’ and ‘your vote is your voice,’ but many discount their impact on our democratic process,” he said. “In this race those phrases have been proven true and each vote truly made the difference. I’m thankful for everyone who came out and supported me and our campaign for city council. I look forward to the primary results being official and moving on to the general election on July 26.”