Allen West's Concession Won't End Troubles for St. Lucie County Elections
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U.S. Rep. Allen West may have ended his two-week battle with election officials in St. Lucie County on Tuesday, but the Treasure Coast office will continue to face scrutiny over how it handled the election.
Florida Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, vowed she will pursue correcting how the supervisor of elections office reportedly double-counted some ballots and misplaced others in West’s defeat to Democrat Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.
“We’re going to move forward looking very carefully at the recommendations, seeing exactly what they say and see what went wrong with this election process in St. Lucie County,” Harrell said Tuesday.
“The voters have got to have confidence in the process. How can you have a democracy without confidence in the electoral process? And I don’t know that they have that right now.”
Harrell said with an audit report pending from the state on the St. Lucie County election, it is too early in any review to address making changes in the county supervisor of elections office. But, she added, because of other election problems in the county in 2006 and 2010, she has heard “a great deal of estrangement” from voters.
Besides protests that sprung up outside the county elections headquarters in Fort Pierce, Beverly Hires, who made waves in June when she closed the House District 82 contest when she filed as a write-in candidate against five Republicans, has petitioned Gov. Rick Scott to take over the retabulation of the Congressional District 18 contest.
Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, sitting as the Florida Elections Canvassing Commission, certified the county's unofficial results on Tuesday as they approved the statewide numbers.
Asked if he was satisfied with the District 18 results, Scott simply said: “That’s what all the numbers show.”
Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who said he hasn’t talked to St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker, sent an inspection team to the county last week as the race was contested in court and later the county canvassing board ordered a retabulation of the first five days of early voting.
Chris Cate, the spokesman for Detzner, said Tuesday the audit from the inspectors will be completed after the Thanksgiving holiday.
West released a concession statement Tuesday morning acknowledging that the 1,904 vote difference could not be made up in a costly and drawn out fight in the courts. The difference kept the contest from qualifying for an automatic recount under Florida law.
“For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly. We have made progress toward that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process,” West stated in the release.
“While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election.”
West, who has made a name for himself with blunt comments directed at Democrats and liberals, would later go on Fox News where he said he hopes his campaign was able to uncover irregularities that people in the district can pursue.
“We uncovered a lot of things that now the people can continue to pursue as well,” West said.
West, whose appearances as a commentator are expected to increase on Fox News, may not be done with politics.
“Right now, God knows the plans for my life. The most important thing is to enjoy Thanksgiving; my youngest daughter has her 16th birthday on Saturday. So that’s where my concern is now, to be with the family,” he said. “We’ll make that decision as a family as far as where we’re going to move ahead.”
Murphy, who along with the Florida Democratic Party has proclaimed victory several times since the day after the election, called West’s concession “gracious.”
“To those who supported my opponent, my door is open and I want to hear your voice,” Murphy stated. “I campaigned on a message of reaching across the aisle to get things done for the people of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches, and that is as important in this district as it is in Washington. I am excited and honored to get to work.”
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