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Saturday, November 17, 2012

UPDATED 11/20/12- St. Lucie Recounting Early Votes In Allen West/ Patrick Murphy Race

By Susan Duclos

[Updates on top]

[Update 11/20/12] West Concedes.

[Update 11/19/12] West to contest 'suspect results" on behalf of all voters in District 18"

[Update 11/18/12] Recount finished, Murphy still ahead. Looks like the ballgame is over folks.

[Update 11/18/12]West seeks hearing after Murphy camp declares victory when St. Lucie board misses noon deadline

The St. Lucie County canvassing board has missed a noon deadline to file election results to the Division of Elections, prompting campaign officials for Patrick Murphy to declare the political newcomer the winner in the race for congressional District 18 race.

Under Florida law, the final certified results were due from all of the state’s 67 supervisors of elections today. If the results do not arrive on time, the certified unofficial results submitted last Sunday stand. Those results have Murphy winning by 0.58 percent. A spread of less than 0.5 percent would have triggered an automatic recount.


Edson said other problems arose this morning. The recount showed 900 voters cast ballots in precinct 93, where there are 7 registered voters, Edson said.

“We have concerns here,” Edson said. “The results are raising more questions.”

Shortly after the deadline passed, attorneys for West headed to the St. Lucie County Courthouse to request an emergency hearing on the issue. It is not known if a hearing has been scheduled.

The canvassing board resumed ballot counting at 8 a.m. this morning in the tight congressional race between West, R-Palm Beach Gardens, and Murphy under the watchful eyes of dozens of attorneys and supporter of both candidates.

Canvassing board member Tod Lowery, who regularly updates the audience on the process, said the board still had write-in ballots and other questionable ballots from eight days of early voting to review before the noon deadline, by which the state’s 67 supervisors of elections must submit their final, certified tallies.

Once again the courts are going to have to step in and assure election integrity, especially with the acknowledged problems.

[Update] Florida law does allow for an exemption  to the deadline in an emergency and West’s attorney is expected to argue that the exemption applies.

That exemption defines emergency as “any occurrence, or threat thereof, whether accidental, natural, or caused by human beings, in war or in peace, that results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population or substantial damage to or loss of property to the extent it will prohibit an election officer’s ability to conduct a safe and orderly election.”

West supporters, upon learning that the deadline was missed, have crowded into the ballot-counting area shouting “Count our vote!” Others have made public comments to elections officials, blaming them for ending the recount last night at 10 p.m. because the security system in the vacant shopping mall where the ballots are being counted would be triggered if the counting continued.

Original post below:

Once the St. Lucie County elections office admitted double-counting some votes and ignoring others on election night, it should have been a no-brainer that the early votes for St. Lucie should have been recounted, but it took a vote from the St. Lucie County canvassing board to decide to do the right thing and finally they are going to recount the early votes.

A divided St. Lucie County canvassing board decided Friday night to recount all 37,379 ballots from early voting in the tight congressional race between Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy.

The 2-1 decision is at least a temporary victory for West, who trails Murphy by less than 2,000 votes or about 0.6 percent in unofficial returns from congressional District 18, which includes St. Lucie, Martin and northern Palm Beach counties.

West has not conceded and has sought a recount of early votes after the St. Lucie County elections office admitted double-counting some votes and ignoring others on election night.
The recount will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

More at the Palm Beach Post.