Florida Republican Rep. Allen B. West, trailing his Democratic opponent by about 1,900 votes, won a victory Friday evening when the St. Lucie County Canvassing Board agreed to retabulate all the early votes.
Earlier Friday a judge had declined to force the canvassing board to do just that. Retabulation is a legal term that means the board will, essentially, recount all the early votes, running them through the electronic vote reader again.
The board began the effort this morning at 9 a.m. and is expected to finish today. The county has to issue a final certification of its winners to the state tomorrow.
Earlier in this post-Election Day saga, the county recounted only some of the early votes after it said it would recount all of them. The St. Lucie County supervisor of elections is a Democrat and the West campaign alleged impropriety.
St. Lucie county is one of three in the newly configured 18th District, where West faced off with businessman Patrick Murphy, a democrat. It was one of the nastiest, most bitter, and hard fought congressional races in the country. As the vote count stands now, West trails just outside the 0.5 percent margin that would trigger an automatic recount across the whole district. But there’s the possibility that, if this retabulation narrows the vote margin, a recount could be triggered.
Murphy has declared victory and has been attending freshman orientation on Capitol Hill. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.
Murphy’s team has asked a court to issue an injunction, stopping the retabulation. It’s unclear if that effort will succeed, given that it’s a Saturday.
“The election was conducted the first time properly and legally,” said Murphy advisor Eric Johnson. “Patrick Murphy won outside the percentage for an automatic recount. The canvassing baord does not have the legal authority to operate a recount. They’re operating outside the law.”
Johnson said no matter how this turns out, Murphy is and will be the winner.
West was pleased with the Board’s decision.
“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,” Allen West said in a statement. “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.”