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Miami Beach Commission Race Comes Down to Literally One Vote

A one-vote difference in the Miami Beach City Commission election will lead to a manual recount in one race.
A one-vote difference in the Miami Beach City Commission election will lead to a manual recount in one race.
Photo by gregobagel / Getty Images
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There are tight elections, and then there's yesterday's race for the Group IV seat on the Miami Beach City Commission, which was so close it makes Gore-Bush look like a cakewalk.

Former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez will head to a mandatory runoff election since neither she nor any of the other candidates received more than 50 percent of the vote total. However, her runoff opponent has yet to be decided. After a final tally last night, real-estate broker Michael Barrineau found himself in second place — one single vote ahead of the next runnerup, attorney Steven Meiner. 

Per the Miami Herald's Martin Vassolo, there are still more than 75 mail-in ballots and three provisional ballots pending review.

The final tallies were Rosen Gonzalez with 3,700 votes; Barrineau with 2,316; Meiner with 2,315; and Rafael A. Velazquez trailing with 1,374.

According to a New Times analysis of election results dating to 1971, Barrineau's ousting of Meiner is likely the closest election result in the modern history of Miami Beach commission races. The next closest was a Group V electoral contest in 1989 between Abe Hirschfeld and Benz Z. Grenald, which was decided by a 13-vote difference in favor of Hirschfeld.

Because the difference between the vote counts of Meiner and Barrineau was less than one-quarter of a percent, election law mandates a manual recount of all votes, where overvotes and undervotes will be identified. The recount will be held tomorrow at 5 p.m. and will be open to the public, under state law. The runoff election is set for November 19.

"I'm waking up this morning in disbelief of how close these results are. I kept saying every vote will matter and wow was that an understatement," Barrineau wrote in an email to campaign supporters.

Of the four Group IV candidates, Meiner, who works as an enforcement attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, raised the least amount of money — a paltry $30,000 compared to the $164,000 and $77,000 hauls by Rosen Gonzalez and Barrineau. Velasquez, who is a real-estate broker like Barrineau, raised almost as much Rosen Gonzalez but still cratered in the election.

The Group IV election placed Rosen Gonzalez against Velazquez, the man she accused of exposing himself to her in 2017. He denied the allegations. Prosecutors investigating the case ultimately decided there was not sufficient evidence to take up the charges.

Rosen Gonzalez left her commission seat to run in the 2018 Democratic primary for Florida's 27th Congressional District, which Donna Shalala won.

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