Politics

Judge Denies St. Lucie Recount for Allen West; Expect Additional Legal Challenges

By: Jim Turner | Posted: November 16, 2012 3:15 PM

Allen West

U.S. Rep. Allen West

St. Lucie County Circuit Judge Dan Vaughn has denied U.S. Rep. Allen West’s request for a recount of all early vote ballots in the county.

Vaughn said the Palm Beach Gardens Republican failed to show he would be “irreparably harmed” if the ballots cast in all eight days of early voting in the county were not run through tabulating machines.

Don’t expect this to be the end of the case. West had indicated to The Hill before Friday’s hearing that he might pursue other legal options after the county canvassing board in the district certifies the results.

"I think that the most important thing is that everyone knows across this county that something happened with those early-voting ballots,” West told the Hill.  “And if people don't want to do right by the American people, we will continue to stand and be a voice for them so that their fears and their concerns are still taken care of.”

Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge David Crow -- District 18 covers all of St. Lucie and Martin counties and northern Palm Beach County -- ruled a week earlier that West must wait until the vote is certified before a 10-day window opens in which a candidate can contest the results alleging misconduct.

“The Legislature again set out specifically, if there is improper conduct by an elected official, here is the manner and method you go about contesting an election and it’s not for me to decide if there is a better method,” Crow said on Nov. 9.

West currently trails Democrat Patrick Murphy by 0.58 percent of the vote, with state law requiring a recount if the vote is within 0.5 percent.

Democrats have declared victory ever since early votes from the final three days of the early voting were run through the tabulating machines on Nov. 10.

West called the partial recount "a sham." Observers expected all early votes would be recounted at that time.

The West camp has claimed they were told the problems occurred in the first part of early voting, which is why they expected the county to review all 37,379 ballots. The problem occurred with tabulating machines reading memory cards.

By recounting just the final days of early voting, only 16,275 ballots were run through the tabulators at the St. Lucie County supervisor of elections office inside the former Orange Blossom Mall in Fort Pierce.

As Vaughn was deliberating on Friday, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux released a tweet aimed at West: “Dear Allen West, You do realize that just because you have not conceded does not mean you did not lose. It just means you have no class.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, joined the Florida Democratic Party in criticizing Gov. Rick Scott for stepping into the race, as a state inspection team from the secretary of state’s office is in St. Lucie County conducting an audit of the race.

“Allen West has lost beyond the mandatory recount range. Having Governor Scott intervene is outrageous and inappropriate,” Wasserman Schultz wrote.

The audit came at the request of Florida Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, who has questioned the actions of the county supervisor of elections office.

“There were votes that were not counted, there were votes that were doubly counted, there were machine failures, there was just chaos from the reports I’ve received,” Harrell said on Wednesday. “It got to the point where I thought it was absolutely necessary to have an investigation.”



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.



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