RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — In the March 8 general election, city council candidate Marvelous Washington was almost 700 votes behind incumbent Shirley Lanier, and only 100 votes ahead of a third candidate for the district.
But because Lanier only received 44% of the vote, Washington faced Lanier in a March 22 runoff.
This time, Washington ran a stronger campaign and finished less than 100 votes behind Lanier.
Washington believes election rules weren’t followed and has filed suit, asking a judge to call for a new runoff election.
Washington actually received more votes than Lanier in the predominantly African American third district. But voters all over Riviera Beach vote on each district and Lanier’s margin of victory came from Singer Island — the city’s wealthiest district — where turnout was stronger than the mainland.
In her lawsuit, Washington claims 104 votes were excluded because they were received after the deadline, enough to potentially make a difference in the race.
Washington also alleges almost all ballots challenged were on the mainland and not Singer Island.
The suit also alleges the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office failed to mail vote-by-mail ballots to those who requested them by the March 12 deadline.
Lanier released the following statement to WPTV:
"The truth is that democracy works, regardless of the outcome and whether you agree with it or not.
The City of Riviera Beach is no stranger to frivolous lawsuits, as witnessed in the last three years. Democracy is for the people and by the people, and the voters have spoken; we should respect that in addition to the processes, policies, and laws that govern such.
The issues conveyed within the lawsuit are simply out of my control.
It is a matter of state statute regarding the laws that govern our election processes vs. I, as a candidate, seeking re-election to the Riviera Beach City Council.
The reality of this issue is much deeper than the recent election results. It's the work and doing of a special interest group that would like to do so much more than just swing over a seat on the Riviera Beach City Council.
I stand affirmatively resolved in my commitment to the residents of this city and the residents only. I was born and raised in this community to two hardworking parents who built their life and raised our family here. This is what encourages me to press forward and continue putting the residents of Riviera Beach first regardless of the obstructionist-like tactics thrown my way."