Florida Congressman Allen West demanded a “full hand recount” of ballots in his congressional race on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after vote counters have still been unable to determine a winner.
“Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County,” the West campaign said in a Facebook posting on Wednesday afternoon. “We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly, and accordingly we will pursue all legal means necessary.
“Our race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome.”
The Tea Party favorite maintained a district wide lead of nearly 2,000 votes late Tuesday night, until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections “recounted” thousands of early ballots. Following that “recount,” Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes.
Local television news outlet WPTV reported that as of 6am local time, a winner had not yet been declared.
“Murphy garnered 160,328 votes to West’s 157,872. That’s a difference of 2,456. Percentage-wise, that’s 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent,” the station said.
Democrat challenger Patrick Murphy declared himself the winner early Wednesday morning, but Congressman West has refused to concede. The West campaign has claimed many “disturbing irregularities” took place at polls across St. Lucie County. Several voters reported the doors to polling places were locked when the polls closed in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results.
“The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor’s office last night could only be described as complete chaos,” the West campaign said.
The hard-fought campaign saw Congressman West’s Republican primary challenger jump sides to endorse the Democrat Murphy. Martin County Sheriff Bob Crowder said his reason for the surprise switch came from his “embarrassment” at “the radical fringe that has taken over the [Republican] party.”
Tens of thousands of absentee ballots in Palm Beach County, and potential provisional ballots across the district, remain uncounted. The West campaign is demanding those ballots be tabulated, and then a recount be held. Murphy’s .8-point lead was greater than the .5-point margin that would trigger an automatic recount.