FORT PIERCE — A daylong machine recount of Port St. Lucie City Council District 4 votes that lasted well into Saturday evening reduced the difference in votes between Robert Bluestone and Jolien Caraballo to the point where a hand recount of some ballots will decide the contest Monday.
The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board announced a 35-vote difference between Bluestone and Caraballo, which is 0.2 percent of the total votes cast. Under state law, over votes and under votes now must be counted by hand.
Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker said that count will begin at 8 a.m. Monday.
The winner of the recount will face Ron Bowen, 63, in a November runoff. A city councilman from 1992 to 2000, his comfortable lead of more than 2,000 votes assured him a spot on the general election ballot against either Bluestone, 59, and Caraballo, 31.
Both contenders watched more than 13 hours Saturday before learning they wouldn't hear a decision until Monday.
"Jolien and I have been in here since 7 a.m.," Bluestone said after the two learned Saturday's recount actually shrunk the difference in votes between them. "So nothing is a surprise to me at this point.
"Hopefully, Monday we'll know something," he added.
Caraballo said she will return to watch the second recount.
"We just have to let the process continue," Caraballo said. "It's important to make sure that every voter's vote is counted."
Bluestone went into Saturday's recount with 4,170 votes and ended the day with 4,137.
Caraballo, who began with 4,120 votes, wound up with 4,102.
"We counted (the ballots) twice and came up with these same numbers," Walker said Saturday night. "That's why they have recounts when things are close. Things can change."
Walker attributed Saturday's lengthy 13-hour process to her staff having to work in two different locations. Saturday's recount started in the Fenn Center, the only place available with the room to set up 65 vote-counting machines.
Those machines had to be torn down in early afternoon and the staff moved to the Supervisor of Elections Office on Okeechobee Road, where absentee and overvoted ballots were counted.