The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board ordered late Friday the retabulation of all early votes in the highly contested congressional race between U.S. Representative Allen West (R-Fla.) and his Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy.
The board voted 2-1 in favor of recounting the votes.
St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker indicated that the retabulation would begin at 9 o’clock Saturday morning. A total of 33,379 ballots from all eight days of early voting are in question.
According to Florida law, the race must be within 0.5 percent or less for an official “recount.” A “retabulation” occurs if the canvassing board decides there were mistakes made in the initial counting of ballots.
At issue are the Florida Republican’s bid to overcome a 1,907 vote – or 0.58 percent deficit – in his Treasure Coast race against Democrat Patrick Murphy.
The popular first-term Congressman needs just 249 votes from the retabulation to trigger a statutory recount under Florida law. In an earlier recount, West gained 545 votes from 16,275 early voting ballots, making it theoretically possible to overcome earlier losses.
Both West and Murphy lost more than 800 votes from the 16,275 with approximately 80 percent of the decrease being attributed to the Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy.
“This retabulation of all early votes as the Supervisor of Elections originally planned is a victory for democracy,” stated Jeffery Scott Shapiro, a volunteer attorney on the Allen West campaign. “This restores some level of trust and public confidence in the system…it was the right thing to do.”
Prior to the St. Lucie County Canvassing Board entering its decision, state Division of Elections official David Drury made a “personal” recommendation that all early votes be recounted as several errors had occurred in the initial process.
It had been previously reported that 304 early votes were never counted. There was also the question of a missing “communications log.”
St. Lucie County was the only county within the three county district that Patrick Murphy won. Supervisor Walker previously admitted double-counting some votes and missing others on election night citing “too much haste” trying to get immediate election results.
Since the earlier partial recount, Walker has stated that she was confident that the “vote count is now accurate.”
West has refused to concede the race and has relentlessly pushed for a recount of early votes in St. Lucie County. If a mandatory recount of all votes is forced, both Martin and Palm Beach counties would be recounted as well.
Earlier in the day, St. Lucie County Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn denied Congressman West’s request for a recount of early votes indicating that he did not have the authority to make such a ruling.