The West campaign is seeking a court-ordered recount, and also to have the ballots impounded before they are altered or destroyed. “Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections,” the West campaign said, “we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County. We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly, and accordingly will pursue all legal means necessary.”
“There must be a state recount,” Mr. Shapiro said, “because we don’t have confidence that this race is being counted accurately and fairly.”
The race for Florida’s 18th Congressional district has taken an ugly turn, with charges of incompetence, illegal activity and possible fraud on the part of local election officials. Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy has declared victory with an apparent 160,328 votes to West’s 157,872. However, serious questions arose immediately about the integrity of the vote count, especially in St. Lucie County. On election night incumbent Republican Allen West had maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections inexplicably “recounted” thousands of early ballots, resulting in 4,400 vote shift to the challenger. Observers on the scene say the process is biased and the election results are fatally compromised. Mr. West is asking a court to impound the ballots and order a recount.
Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a volunteer lawyer for the West campaign, told the Washington Times he is “starting have serious concerns about what is going on.” Mr. Shapiro noted that he is not speaking officially on behalf of the campaign but as a first hand witness seeking to get the facts on the record.
“We are not getting to observe the vote count,” he said. Mr. Shapiro has been overseeing the process at the Riveria Beach vote tabulation center. Temporary workers are helping the local staff oversee the count of absentee ballots, those damaged by voting machines, and ballots in which the three pages have become separated. They are making new ballots to replace the damaged ones, and are required to mark them with the same votes. Florida law allows observers to be present but they are being blocked from making sure the ballots are marked accurately.