Despite a judge’s refusal to grant a recount to Rep. Allen West (GOP/Tea-Fla.), a partial recount of the early votes only is under way, as of Saturday morning, Nov. 17.
The colorful (read: “nut case“) tea party congressman lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy by about 0.6 percent. Florida law requires that a candidate lose by 0.5 percent or less to trigger a full ballot recount. But when the governor of the state is Rick Scott, himself a tea party champion, anything can happen.
Updates available after the jump
And so elections workers in St. Lucie County are retabulating the 37,379 early votes cast in the District 18 (St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Martin counties) race. A “retabulation” can be done when officials are of the opinion that an error could have taken place. After Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker revealed that 306 early ballots were not counted, the three-member canvassing board voted two to one to retabulate.
The board earlier had decided to recount only 16,275 ballots from the last three days of the eight-day early voting period. That recount lowered Murphy’s vote total by 667 and West’s by 132 — a net gain of 535 votes for West. Walker said the problems with early voting were limited to those days and there was no reason to recount the 21,000 ballots from the other five days…
Meanwhile, West and Murphy broke even in the count of overseas ballots by canvassing boards of all three counties Friday night.
West won 34 overseas votes to Murphy’s 29 in Palm Beach County, three to Murphy’s five in Martin and three to Murphy’s six in St. Lucie.
After their counts of overseas ballots Friday, the Palm Beach and Martin canvassing boards both certified their final votes to the state.
Those numbers, plus St. Lucie’s unofficial returns as of late Friday, showed Murphy leading the race by the same 1,907 votes or 0.58 percent, that he had after St. Lucie’s partial recount Sunday.
Democrats smell a rat named Rick in the decision to retabulate.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, also issued a statement linking Republican Gov. Rick Scott to West’s cause…
“In a clear effort to overturn an election result after having lost at the ballot box, Allen West has now run to Governor Rick Scott to needlessly interfere with and politicize a non-partisan election process… Having Governor Scott intervene is outrageous and inappropriate. After disenfranchising Florida voters by cutting down early voting days and creating extraordinarily long lines at the polls, Governor Scott is now trying to blatantly overturn an election result he disagreed with…
We’ll keep you posted on whether the new counting changes the game for West, who still has not conceded.
Update: A judge is hearing Patrick Murphy’s emergency motion to stop the retabulation, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The motion contends that Florida law gives the canvassing board in St. Lucie County the power re-tabulate only ballots believed to be affected by an error. Last Sunday, St. Lucie recounted three days of early voting ballots. Last night, the board voted 2-1 to recount the remaining five days of early voting ballots…
Meanwhile, in a deserted former shopping mall in Fort Pierce, dozens of observers, mostly supporters of incumbent West, crowded into the recount area. Some heckled St. Lucie County Commissioner and Canvassing Board member Tod Mowery as he explained the recount process to the audience…
Also in attendance are three members from the U.S. House Administration Committee, who travelled from Washington, DC at the request of West to observe the recount.
The Republican National Lawyers Association has sent out an appeal for donations to help pay West’s attorneys’ fees.
Update: Murphy’s motion was denied so the recount of all early votes in the race is continuing.
Update: Counting ceased at 10 p.m. on Saturday and is resuming Sunday morning. The statewide deadline for results for all races in all counties is noon on Sunday.
Update: The board missed the noon deadline for finishing their retabulation of early ballots after more than 16 hours of counting. By Florida law, that leaves Democrat Patrick Murphy the winner in the Fla. Dist. 18 congressional race, since he was the winner in the original, uncertified tally. But we’re not quite through. West has requested voting sign-in sheets from election day to compare the number of people who came to the polls with the number of votes cast. Stay tuned…
Update: West has issued a concession statement on Facebook, which said, “Given the extremely high evidentiary hurdles involved in a successful challenge, I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success. Therefore, we will not contest the certification or challenge the seating of Congressman-elect Murphy.”