A potentially election-changing recount of more than 16,000 votes got underway Sunday morning in the hotly contested race between Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.
Election officials in St. Lucie County said late Saturday they would convene “to recount all ballots cast during early voting" out of concerns about the ways votes were tabulated on election night -- a total of 37,379 ballots, the Palm Beach Post reported.
But Assistant County Attorney Heather Young announced when the proceedings started Sunday that only ballots from the last three days of early voting would be recounted -- the only days she said tabulating equipment had a problem reading the votes -- accounting for a total of 16,275 ballots.
A complete but unofficial vote tally released Saturday put Murphy ahead of West, 166,799 votes to 164,370, but the Tea Party favorite has refused to concede the race, citing significant concerns about the integrity of the vote count in St. Lucie County.
"Late on Election Night, Congressman West led by 1,700 votes," West's campaign said in a statement Saturday. "Following the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections’ decision to recount thousands of early ballots after a technical glitch, the margin shifted by 4,000. In order to ensure that votes were not doubled counted, we have requested that the St. Lucie Supervisor of Elections make public the poll check-in books to ensure the numbers of ballots cast matches the numbers of voters checked-in at the polls."
West campaign manager Tim Edson told the Post on Sunday they had been told last week it was the first three days of early voting -- not the last three -- that had had problems. He said all eight days of early voting ballots need to be recounted.
“What’s going on today is a sham,” Edson told the newspaper. “It does nothing to at all to address the concerns we had after being told yesterday they would be recounting all early votes.”
Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a volunteer lawyer for the West campaign, told TheBlaze on Saturday there was "absolutely no chance of concession" until the campaign's questions were answered.
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- Source: Allen West Now Leads Initial Vote Count in One Fla. County
- ‘This Race Is Far From Decided’: Allen West Wants a Recount