November 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm
ST. LUCIE COUNTY — While U.S. Rep. Allen West’s campaign waits for a judge to schedule a hearing in its latest St. Lucie County elections challenge, the county’s canvassing board is anticipating the arrival of state elections auditors Wednesday.
West, who narrowly lost a congressional bid to Democrat Patrick Murphy in unofficial results, filed a lawsuit Tuesday evening demanding a recount of all early votes. The West campaign expressed concern when Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker on Sunday performed a partial recount of early ballots cast Nov. 1 through 3, instead of re-tallying all the votes.
Listed as plaintiffs alongside West are St. Lucie early voters Lynn “Sam” Sammuli, Caroline Knudsen, Sandra Krischke, Phyllis Genovese, Mark Gotz, Megan Elam and Catherin Griffin.
West’s legal team has questioned how Walker’s numbers add up. Walker admitted Tuesday there were errors where thousands of votes were either not counted or counted twice, but she said the Sunday recount remedied the situation.
Walker’s legal rebuttal states she doesn’t have the authority to order a recount. That is spelled out in state law, which states only an election decided by 0.5 percent or less triggers an automatic recount. What happened Sunday, Walker has said, is a “retabulation,” which a supervisor can perform at her discretion when possible errors exist in vote counting.
“The Motion is devoid of any actual legal argument or factual allegation, let alone clear proof of the elements required for the granting of an injunction under controlling Florida law,” Walker’s legal response reads.
Judge Dan Vaughn has not yet scheduled the case to be heard, said West legal counsel Jason Torchinsky. The canvassing board has to certify its results to the state Sunday, and the state ultimately certifies results Tuesday.
Department of State spokesman Chris Cate also said the department thought all 37,379 early votes would be recounted Sunday, not just the 16,275 early ballots cast Nov. 1 through 3.
Cate said the canvassing board needed to be confident in reporting its unofficial results to the state, which St. Lucie was required to finalize by last Saturday.
A letter to Walker from Secretary of State Ken Detzner said officials would show up Wednesday to “observe and examine the election processes, to include any vote tabulations, and the condition, custody, and operation of voting systems” for the election.
The state officials will report any findings from voting materials and records to the 19th Judicial Circuit Court and the Department of State.
“We are concerned whenever there is a question about the accuracy of results,” Cate said in an email. “ … We are not aware of any counties experiencing the same issues as St. Lucie.”
– Jonathan Mattise, TCPalm