Rep. West asks court to force broader recount after voting machine problems

Florida Rep. Allen West said Tuesday he filed a circuit court complaint challenging the official result of his House race, which ended with him losing re-election by 2,442 votes.

The lawsuit asks the St. Lucie County court for a preliminary injunction that would order election officials to recount early votes in the state’s 18th Congressional District and refrain from certifying the results until the process in complete. The court could not be reached late Tuesday afternoon to verify the filing.

The West campaign points to a wild swing of votes in favor of Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy on election night as the reason for their concern.

West told Fox News Tuesday night that he would be only satisfied with the results of the election when the recount was complete, saying it was unfair to the voters to not investigate.

"If someone has a problem with me then it should be taken out against me," he said. "But you should not do it at the expense of the voters. And that is the most important thing.  Look if we do not have integrity in our election process then we don't have the exceptionalism as a constitutional republic, we don't have a rule of law. "

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West, a first-term Republican congressman, is a Tea Party favorite known for his strong criticism of President Obama and other Democrats.

Officials on Saturday issued a final tally in Murphy’s favor and said the margin of victory was above the threshold for a recount. However, they acknowledged a problem with computer memory cards in voting machines in St. Lucie County and agreed to recount ballots cast from Nov. 1 to 3.

The West campaign argued the entire early voting period – from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 -- should be recounted, considering the malfunction.

“It stands to reason that if the remaining early votes were to be recounted, additional errors would be uncovered and the tabulation of votes revised accordingly,” the campaign said.

The suit names as defendants Florida Secretary of State Dan Detzner and Gertrude Walker, the county’s supervisor of elections.

The campaign said West is joined in the case by eight other named plaintiffs, who were early voters in St. Lucie County.

The district also includes parts of Martin and Palm Beach counties, along the state’s so-called Gold Coast. West spokeswoman Michele Hickford told the campaign is concerned about the early votes throughout the newly redrawn district but is particularly focused on those in St. Lucie County.

The campaign also said the county’s Canvassing Board met Sunday for the stated purpose of recounting "all ballots cast during early voting."

The process resulted in roughly 1,000 fewer ballots, but it was not conducted pursuant to Florida statute and Walker provided no explanation, the West officials said Tuesday.

The Murphy campaign was busy Tuesday asking supporters for help paying for the looming legal battle, saying “please contribute to help us protect our victory.”

“Nothing seems enough for Allen West,” the campaign's email to supporters says. “West just won't give up without a long, costly legal battle. We have to fight back against West's legal battle with our own team of lawyers and work through this process.”

The two sides had raised nearly $21 million as of Oct. 17, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, and Super PACs poured about $6.6 million into the race.

Though the Murphy campaign suggested it would have to pay its own legal bills, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has issued its own fundraising email, which asks for a donation of at least $3.

West led at one point election night by 1,700 votes, but then trailed by about 2,000 votes a short time later.

The West campaign also has asked St. Lucie County to make public the poll check-in books to ensure the numbers of ballots cast match the numbers of voters who checked in at the polls.

The state tally is complete but still unofficial. There are still a handful of overseas and military ballots outstanding. But under Florida law, recounts are based on Saturday's results.