FORT PIERCE, Fla. (CBSMiami) — Eleven days after the Nov. 6 election, election workers in St. Lucie County began a recount of early votes in the race between Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West and Patrick Murphy, the man who apparently unseated him.
The county’s canvassing board voted Friday night in favor of the recount. Because three days of early ballots were recounted last week, the decision was intended to apply to only the other five days of early voting. But election workers say the ballots are no longer separated by the day they were cast, so all of them will be fed through scanners.
Via a statement Friday night, Rep. West said, “We are pleased the Canvassing Board has done the right thing for the voters of St Lucie County by agreeing to a retabulation of early votes.”
“All we have been fighting for since the very beginning is to ensure the citizens of this county have their votes accurately and fairly counted,” West said in the statement.
Democrat Patrick Murphy’s campaign was readying court papers seeking an injunction to stop the recount. They say the county can only recount ballots in which there is evidence a counting mistake was made.
The race was one of the country’s most expensive House contests and one of the most closely watched.
Counties must file certified election results with the state by noon Sunday. West can formally contest the election after that.
According to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, West’s attorneys allege all kinds of possible wrongdoing at the polls, including discrepancies between the number of people signed in at precincts and the ultimate number of votes counted.
Murphy has a 50.3 percent share of the ballots, a margin of six-tenths of a percentage point that is just above the half-percentage point threshold to order a full recount.
The Democrat is the winner in the eyes of the state and was in Washington this week attending House orientation. Should Murphy still hold the vote lead after the recount, it was unclear if West might offer a concession.
West, 51, is a first-term tea party favorite who has made a string of headline-grabbing statements, from calling scores of congressional Democrats communists to saying President Barack Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and others should “get the hell out of the United States.”
Murphy, 29, is a political newcomer who portrayed West as an extremist who has done little else in Washington than stoke partisan fires.
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