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Wrong Miss Florida Crowned in Voting Mix-Up

Heartbreak for Elizabeth Fechtel, who was crowned Miss Florida last Saturday and stripped of the title Friday due to a vote count error.
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She was Miss Florida for just six days.

After organizers realized there had been a vote count error with last Saturday’s pageant, Elizabeth Fechtel, a 20-year-old student at the University of Florida, was dethroned on Friday.

The ballot counter at the event, which was held in front of 2,000 spectators in St. Petersburg, didn't see that one of the five judges had changed his mind, writing a new line up on the left-hand side of his ballot.

The true Miss Florida contest winner was Victoria Cowen, a 21-year-old student at Florida State University. Sullivan delivered the bad news to Fechtel in person on Thursday evening, traveling to her home in Leesburg, Florida.

"Our organization had to do the right thing, and the right thing is to crown the young woman that was intended to be crowned," said Mary Sullivan, executive director of the Miss Florida pageant.

Fechtel is now the runner-up, and Cowen will compete in September's Miss America contest. The two women are friends, Sullivan said, which made the conversations even harder.

Neither woman could immediately be reached on Friday.