By: Stephen Dinan
Rep. Allen West won a full recount of early voting in St. Lucie County when the county’s canvassing board voted late Friday to grant his request.
Local news accounts said the decision came in a 2-1 vote.
After last weeks’ election Mr. West, a one-term congressman and tea party favorite, trails Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by about 1,900 votes, or just outside the margin needed for an automatic recount.
But problems tabulating early voting ballots in St. Lucie — one of three counties with precincts in the 18th congressional district — left Mr. West and other candidates in the region fearing that some votes are being ignored.
County elections supervisor Gertrude Walker initially called for a full recount of all eight days of early voting, but ended up only recounting three days which she said had problems.
Mr. West, a one-term tea party favorite, argued that state law required any recount to cover all eight days of early voting.
He went to court to try to win the full recount, but a judge rejected his petition earlier Friday. Hours later, however, the canvassing board granted his request.
Mr. Murphy’s lawyer had told the judge he would try to block the full recount should the canvassing board approve one. It was unclear early Saturday whether Mr. Murphy would follow through on that threat.
The county has until Sunday to certify its results and send them to the state, where a final commission will certify them and send them to Washington.
Florida law still allows 10 days after that second certification for a candidate to challenge a vote.
Mr. Murphy, in an email to supporters Friday, said he expects a drawn-out fight — though he said he’s already in Washington beginning orientation.