The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board has ordered the retabulation of all the county’s early votes in the highly contested congressional race between Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) and Democrat Patrick Murphy, according to Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a volunteer lawyer for the West campaign. The board voted 2-1 in favor of recounting the votes.
“This retabulation of all early votes as the Supervisor of Elections originally planned is a victory for democracy,” Shapiro told TheBlaze. “This restores some level of trust and public confidence in the system…it was the right thing to do.”
Starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, election officials will retabulate a total of 33,379 ballots from all eight days of early voting in St. Lucie County, he explained.
West needs to gain just 249 votes from those ballots to trigger a statutory recount under state law, Shapiro said. West gained 535 votes in the initial recount of 16,275 early voting ballots, making it theoretically possible that the outspoken congressman could pick up the required votes to force a recount. Both candidates combined lost more than 800 votes, however, 80 percent of the decrease was owned Murphy.
Before the canvassing board voted, state Division of Elections official David Drury made a “personal” recommendation that all early votes in the county be retabulated after officials realized there were 304 early voting ballots that were never counted. There was also reportedly a missing “communications log.”
St. Lucie County was the only one of three counties in the district that Murphy won. The St. Lucie County elections office previously admitted double-counting some votes and missing others on election night. West has refused to concede and relentlessly pushed for a recount of early votes in the county. Now he hopes he can pick up enough votes to force a full recount, which would bring Martin and Palm Beach counties into the mix as well.
According to Florida law, the race must be within 0.5 percent or closer for a “recount.” A “retabulation” occurs if the canvassing board decides there were mistakes made in the initial counting of ballots.
The Murphy campaign has vowed to go to court in order to prevent a recount of early votes.
“If the canvassing board were to decide that they want to do that without any evidentiary basis to do so, we’ll be back before your honor with a motion for injunctive relief against them doing it because under the law the statute that we cited for your honor they have absolutely no right to do it,” Murphy attorney Gerald Richman said in court on Friday.
A circuit judge dealt the West campaign a blow, one that he was able to overcome, earlier on Friday after he ruled he didn’t have the authority to order a county-wide recount of early votes.
This story has been updated.