• Local vet's ballot rejected in tight race

    By: Lorena Inclán


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Despite a 77-year-old Navy veteran James Rushin's efforts to get his vote counted, it's been tossed out.

    Duval County election officials say Rushin's absentee ballot signature doesn't match the signature they have on file. Rushin went before the elections canvassing board Thursday to prove he is the voter who mailed in the ballot in question.

    "Both signatures are mine," Rushin said to board members.

    That single vote could have had an impact on the race for State House District 15 where Jay Fant leads Paul Renner by only three votes. Another recount in that race will begin Friday.

    Rushin's vote was for Renner.

    “I came to get my vote counted. Unfortunately, I didn’t accomplish that,” Rushin said.

    For about an hour board members looked at the signature over and over, even had the general counsel explain the statute.

    Legally, members can only consider the signature on file and the one on the ballot that was mailed in unless Rushin updated his signature before canvassing meetings convened, something he didn’t do.

    "I have no doubt he's the person, I have no doubt whatsoever but what we have as the law to go by is all we can go by," said Councilman Doyle Carter who sits on the canvassing board.

    Paul Renner campaign spokesperson Brian Hughes said they reached out to Rushin when they learned his ballot was thrown out.

    "Here's a guy who put his life on the line for the nation does the right thing does what most people aren't doing these days which is [be] active in the process and his vote is going to end up thrown away," said Hughes.

    Before Rushin left, he made sure to update his signature with the Supervisor of Elections Office.

    "Next time it will be right or maybe I'll stop absentee ballot and go down to the polls and do it " said Rushin.

    Consultant Brett Doster with the Jay Fant campaign said they don’t anticipate the results are going to change after Friday's recount.

    Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said nothing restricts a voter or a campaign to take this issue to court and let a judge decide if the ballot should be counted.


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