Published November 12, 2012
Florida Republican Rep. Allen West continues to challenge election officials' tallies that show he has lost his re-election bid – amid wild ballot swings on Tuesday and a partial recount needed because of voting-machine problems.
The Tea Party-backed West demanded a recount after the swing of votes on election night, leading Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by roughly 2,000 votes, then trailing by 2,400 votes about 35 minutes later.
Officials said Saturday a final tally in the state’s 18th Congressional District shows Murphy had won by enough votes to avoid a full recount. But they then agreed to a partial recount of early votes in St. Lucie County after acknowledging some votes had been counted twice. That recount resulted in a minor changes in the numbers, with West still behind.
West and his campaign, though, objected to just a partial recount of votes cast Nov.1-3, arguing the irregularity calls for a full audit.
“If people are that adamant about getting rid of me, that’s fine,” West told Fox News on Monday. “But don’t do it at the expense of the integrity of our electoral process. That’s what disturbs me the most.”
The West team is singling out County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker and requesting a comparison of voter signatures from all polling places with the total ballots counted because the numbers do not appear to match.
Officials have “already stated they had a 141 percent voter turnout, which I think should cause everyone alarm,” West told Fox.
He also said Murphy officials were allowed to observe the Sunday recount, but West’s were not.
St. Lucie County Assistant Attorney Heather Young told NBC-WPTV that the recount was related to computer memory cards that record the ballots when fed through voting machines.
Officials said Saturday that West lost by 2,442 votes. The partial recount changed the final tally by several hundred votes. But officials have not changed the final but unofficial outcome and say the new tally is not enough for a full recall election.
However, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a volunteer lawyer for West's campaign, thinks a full recount of early votes would give the congressman the extra votes needed to trigger an automatic recount.
“We're close, very close,” said Shapiro, a member Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign team. “It would be irrational at this stage to concede without making sure that every single vote is counted and that the democratic process is preserved."
Officials also allowed for additional vote counting in Palm Beach County before issuing the tally Saturday.
West's only option now appears to be through the courts.
West, 51, is one of only two black Republicans in the House. He had a constant string of headline-grabbing statements, from calling a majority of congressional Democrats communists to saying President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and others should "get the hell out of the United States."
Murphy, 29, was a political newcomer who portrayed West as an extremist who has done little else in Washington than stoke partisan fires.
Fox News' Eric Shawn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.