A Palm Beach county election worker counts ballots from election day in Riviera Beach, Fla. Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. A request by Rep. Allen West to impound ballots and voting machines was denied Friday, setting an uncertain path forward in his quest for re-election. Credit: AP
Mainstream media reports notwithstanding, the Allen West-Patrick Murphy race is far from over, according to a volunteer lawyer with the campaign. Voting irregularities abound in what has shaped up to be one of the most hotly contested congressional races of the 2012 campaign.
On Sunday, the West campaign saw a net gain of 535 votes for Congressman West in a re-feed of early ballots in St. Lucie County, roughly 43.5% of the total ballots cast in the conservative Florida county.
“That's only two votes shy of the number of votes that President George W. Bush won the American presidency with in 2000,” said Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a volunteer lawyer for the West campaign. Over 800 votes went “missing” in Sunday’s count and of those 800, eighty percent of them had previously gone to West’s challenger, Patrick Murphy. The West campaign likes those odds.
On Saturday, Florida had released an unofficial result showing Murphy with a lead of 2,442 votes, or 50.4 percent—a narrow lead which makes his count just beyond the half-percent margin mandated for an automatic recount.
"We only need another 249 votes to trigger a statutory recount of the total of hundreds of thousands of votes cast in this race,” Shapiro explained. “For the media to suggest Allen West has already lost this race is not only irresponsible, it's untrue. The media needs to stop projecting what it wants to happen and start reporting the facts of what is actually happening."
"I wouldn't be surprised if a statutory recount shifted the final numbers," he added. "We only recounted the early vote portion for three days in one county today, which was about five percent of the total votes cast in this race. The numbers shifted in the hundreds when we're only about 1,800 votes behind to win. More important than victory however, is democracy. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and their vote counted. Something is fundamentally flawed with the media when it creates the impression that recounting the votes is unnecessary."
Shapiro doubts that the canvassing board in St. Lucie County is doing its due diligence.
"The Canvassing Board in St. Lucie County misled the public," he said. "They said they would recount all 37,379 early votes, but instead they only recounted 16,275 early votes from November 1, 2 and 3rd. Still, out of the 43.5 percent of early votes they recounted we picked up a net gain 535 votes. If they recounted the remaining 56.5 percent, there's very little question we'd pick up the 249 we need to trigger a statutory recount."
"I never experienced these kind of obstructionist tactics and hostility when I was serving on John Kerry's presidential election team in 2004," Shapiro added. “I was impressed with the system despite its flaws, but I'm starting to realize that there's a big difference when you're a member of the same party as the supervisor of elections than when you're with the opposition. What I've seen these past few days has caused me to lose some faith and confidence in the integrity of the democratic process."
The race was the country’s most expensive House contest, with over $21 million raised. West is among the most prolific fundraisers in Congress.