Leesburg woman surrenders Miss Florida crown after tabulation error


LEESBURG, Fla. - The winner and runner-up in the Miss Florida pageant have to switch places because of a miscalculation.

Officials of the Miss Florida Organization named a new Miss Florida on Friday after discovering a tabulation error in the judging. As a result Elizabeth Fechtel, from Leesburg, who won the crown last Saturday, is now the runner-up. The woman who had come in second -- Victoria Cowen, of Panama City -- is now the new Miss Florida.

Executive Director Mary Sullivan says the tabulation error was noticed during a routine recount. She says a mark on one judge's ballot was inadvertently overlooked. The ballots were retabulated by an independent auditor and the contestants were notified of the correct results.

Fechtel previously held the title of Miss America's Outstanding Teen, according to officials with the Miss Florida organization.

According to officials with the pageant, Fechtel was told of the tabulation error Thursday.

In a press release officials said: "While the situation is highly unfortunate, to protect the integrity of the Miss Florida Scholarship Organization it is imperative to make sure that the contestant who received the highest overall score is officially named the winner and has the opportunity to represent the Organization as Miss Florida."

Cowen will represent Florida in the national Miss America Competition in September.