Partial Allen West-Patrick Murphy Recount Under Way in St. Lucie County
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As Floridians awaken Sunday morning, elections officials in St. Lucie County likely will be recounting an estimated 37,000 early ballots in the contentious 18th Congressional District race between Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.
"Frankly, a lot of us are glad," a St. Lucie elections office worker told Sunshine State News late Saturday. She was speaking on condition of anonymity. "We want the spotlight off our county, we want the election over.
"And our supervisor of elections is a Democrat. We want to show the world nothing intentional happened here, so I guess you could say that we want vindication."
The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board announced late Saturday that it set an emergency meeting to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday to “recount all ballots cast during early voting.”
West has doggedly refused to concede the race, though he is currently trailing Murphy by 2,442 votes. The Florida Division of Elections website puts Murphy's vote total at 166,890 and West's at 164,448.
But West has a lawyer, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro. Shapiro is volunteering for the congressman's campaign and claims "there are possible irregularities in St. Lucie County. ... On Sunday we'll have a chance to recount the early votes and that's a good start to preserving the integrity of the democratic process."
West's campaign issued a statement Saturday praising the partial recount.
"This decision should help shed light on the situation of this election," the statement said. "This is the action we were seeking to ensure the results of this election were fair and accurate."
Voting issues are at the seat of the West campaign's contention that the race is still undecided.
West for Congress summarized in a statement: "Late on Election Night, Congressman West led by 1,700 votes. Following the St. Lucie County supervisor of elections’ decision to recount thousands of early ballots after a technical glitch, the margin shifted by 4,000. In order to ensure that votes were not doubled-counted, we have requested that the St. Lucie supervisor of elections make public the poll check-in books to ensure the number of ballots cast matches the number of voters checked-in at the polls."
The state tally is complete but still unofficial. With only a handful of overseas and military ballots outstanding, the state count is complete but unofficial. By law, Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy has won enough votes to avoid an automatic recount.
West nevertheless can contest the election if misconduct or fraud might have changed its result.
Camps for both West and Murphy have since Wednesday been engaged in a furious fundraising campaign to prepare for an anticipated court battle.
Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews or at (850) 727-0859.