West demands recount in Florida county

Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Florida's secretary of state sent staff to St. Lucie County after irregularities were reported in the race between Rep. Allen West and his Democratic rival.

The Republican incumbent's campaign filed a complaint in St. Lucie County Circuit Court Tuesday, asking a judge to order a recount of all 37,379 votes cast in St. Lucie County during the early voting period, The Miami Herald reported.

West, who trails Democrat Patrick Murphy by 1,907 votes -- a scant 0.58 percent in unofficial returns -- has cited problems with St. Lucie County's counting of early votes for his refusal to concede the race.

"We are concerned whenever there is a question about the accuracy of results," Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner spokesman Chris Cate said Tuesday of the decision to send three election division officials to St. Lucie County to observe.

West said a full recount is justified because a partial recount Sunday indicated Murphy losing 667 votes and West losing 132, for a net gain of 535 votes for West, the Herald said.

Murphy's lead still is larger than the 0.5 percent threshold to trigger an automatic recount, the newspaper said. However, state law also authorizes a county to conduct a "retabulation" of votes if it "determines that the unofficial returns may contain a counting error in which the vote tabulation system failed to count votes that were properly marked."

St. Lucie County Elections Supervisor Gertrude Walker said errors were made in uploading results from the final three days of the eight-day early-voting period, but added the believes the mistakes were corrected.

"We are confident that every vote has been counted," Walker said.

She said it would be up to the state to decide whether a recount should be conducted.

"If the state orders a recount, the canvassing board and myself would be pleased to do that," Walker said. "That's our job. We just don't have the authority to order a recount ourselves."

Besides demanding a full recount of early votes, West's campaign wants to review voter sign-in sheets to compare the number of ballots cast to the number of people who showed up, the Herald said.

Murphy, in Washington to attend orientation for incoming House members, said he was "comfortable" with St. Lucie County's vote-counting.

While the secretary of state shows Murphy as leading West by a recount-proof margin, results aren't considered official until state certifies results Nov. 20.

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