Two tables of people each participated in the process, which includes reviewing each individual ballot. / CRISTELA GUERRA/THE NEWS-PRESS
A two-day trial that begins a week from today will determine whether Cape Coral’s former mayor, John Sullivan, will be granted a recount by a local Circuit Court judge.
Tuesday morning, Sullivan sat across a long room from current Mayor Marni Sawicki as two tables of seven individuals steadily reviewed thousands of early voting ballots.
As an unofficial ballot inspection, it was a silent process. Neither camp was allowed to touch the ballots, and members only whispered. It took the majority of the day.
This effort was part of Sullivan’s complaint which he filed last year and which was permitted by the courts.
Sawicki beat him by 121 votes in the official count.
His lawyer, Leigh Fisher, has maintained a series of claims, including that there may have been some misconduct by the canvassing board, as well as discrepancies in certain polling sites. Previously, Fisher claimed the entire race may be thrown out. They requested looking at the early voting ballots since Sullivan had supposedly been in the lead in the absentee and Election Day votes.
The original trial was to be held Jan. 7. Judge Alane Laboda sanctioned Fisher at a meeting in court the day before for not sharing certain information during discovery and made lawyers abide by a strict time line to prepare for the new dates, Feb. 12 and 13. Both sides said little outside the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office when they broke for lunch around noon. Sawicki preferred not to comment, but she had previously said it was business as usual until it wasn’t anymore.
“It’s been going well,” Sullivan said of the ballot inspection.
The media were in a separate room, but could see the process through a window. One person would hold up a ballot for a few moments, as others nodded, reviewing and tallying each one. Each table worked steadily focusing on different precincts.
“Everyone is doing a great job,” said Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington. “They’re keeping decorum.”