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article imageJudge denies Rep. Allen West's request for early ballot recount

By Yukio Strachan     Nov 16, 2012 in Politics
Fort Pierce - A judge rejected a request from U.S. Rep. Allen West on Friday that he order a recount of early voting ballots — leaving the decision up to the county’s canvassing board, which meets today at 4 p.m.
West hoped to convince a circuit judge to order a recount of eight days of early votes cast in Democratic-leaning St. Lucie County.
But after listening to lawyers from the canvassing board, Patrick Murphy, Allen West and Gertrude Walker for about an hour, St. Lucie County Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn said he did not have the authority to order the recount, which West wanted after problems emerged in the counting of early votes on election night, Post on politics said.
Unofficial results on Thursday, nine days after voters went to the polls, showed the freshman Republican, who's a hero to many in the tea party movement, trailing Democrat Murphy 166,223 votes to 164,316 in the 18th Congressional District, which includes northern Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties. He has refused to concede.
If the court had given West what he wanted — and if that turned up votes for West — it could've triggered a full recount in all three counties. As of Thursday, Murphy had 50.28 percent of the vote and West had 49.7 percent (with 0.2 percent going to a write-in candidate).
The Murphy-West gap of 0.58 percent is higher than the full recount threshold of 0.5 percent required by state law.
Today's decision had no effect on the St. Lucie County Canvassing Board which is expected to decide on Friday whether to retabulate some or all early votes cast ahead of Election Day.
Time is tight. Each county's elections canvassing board is required to certify its results to the Florida secretary of state by noon Sunday. So if St. Lucie County is ordered to do an early vote recount, and if that puts West within 0.5 percent, all three counties would have to do their recounts quickly.
Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker admitted human and machine errors were made on election night, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers reported. "I'm not perfect, neither is my staff," said Walker, 63.
According to SunSentinel, since her admission, the West campaign has gone after Walker, sending releases with the headlines "Gertrude Walker's math simply doesn't add up" and "Gertrude Walker clearly runs [the] most corrupt elections office in the state of Florida."
It worked. By noon, about 50 Allen West supporters showed up outside the St. Lucie County Courthouse for the 1pm hearing and were chanting scathing criticisms of county Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker, TC Palm said.
The West crowd carried signs that said "Count the votes," "recount now!", "don't believe the liberal media," and "what are you hiding Gertrude Walker?"
Their chants range from "Gerty is corrupt, Gerty must go," to "what do we want? Recount. When do we want it? Now."
The canvassing board is set to meet today at 4 p.m. to decide whether it wants to retabulate additional votes.
More about allen west, Ballots, Election recounts, patrick murphy
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