A Florida canvassing board decided to begin counting this morning all 37,379 ballots from early voting in the race between Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy.
St. Lucie County's decision, split 2-1, is at least a temporary victory for West, who trails Murphy by less than 2,000 votes in the race for Florida's 18th District seat covering St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties.
"We are pleased the Canvassing Board has done the right thing for the voters of St Lucie County by agreeing to a retabulation of early votes," said West in a press release. "All we have been fighting for since the very beginning is to ensure the citizens of this county have their votes accurately and fairly counted."
By early Saturday morning, Murphy's legal team sought an injuction in circuit court to stop the recount.
Shortly before 10 a.m. Murphy lawyer Liz Powers told the canvassing board of the action but county attorneys had not received word. The recount began shortly after 10 a.m.
West fired back at Murphy, issuing a statement:
"In a last-ditch effort to suppress the vote, Murphy's lawyers submitted sloppy and incomplete papers to the Court this morning to try to strong-arm the judge into preventing today's retabulation already underway. The Murphy team's motion is procedurally and substantively lacking. With every action attempted, Murphy demonstrates a complete lace of respect and utter disregard for the voters of St. Lucie County.
"Murphy's efforts bring to mind the dark times in our nation's history when politicians tried to manipulate the law to suppress the votes, and we are appalled by Murphy's apparent contempt for the voting rights of citizens to have their ballots accurately and fairly tabulated."
The canvassing board’s decision to recount came late Friday, hours after Treasure Coast Circuit Judge Dan Vaughn declined to intervene in the case, declining a request from West that he order a full recount of all early votes.
According to The Palm Beach Post: "After Vaughn’s ruling, the canvassing board held a lengthy and at times heated meeting in which elections officials revealed that 306 ballots had gone uncounted and the attorney for St. Lucie County Elections Supervisor Gertrude Walker announced that the elections chief was in the hospital."