Much like the Twilight movie franchise, the rather long and drawn out saga that is the election for Florida's 18th district Congressional seat between Patrick Murphy and incumbent Allen West is (hopefully) nearing it's end.
A crucial deadline has just passed in St. Lucie County, Florida. The deadline for certification of that county's election results was at 12 noon today, and Patrick Murphy's campaign is declaring victory since the law indicates that the previous results would then become the official results if certification has not taken place.
Per the Palm Beach Post:
Under Florida law, if the deadline passes with final certified results, the unofficial certified results filed last Sunday stand. Those results show Murphy ahead by .58 percent – above the .5 percent spread which would trigger an automatic recount.
Campaign officials for Patrick Murphy, Democrat candidate for the congressional district 18 race, are calling their candidate the winner because the St. Lucie Canvassing Board has missed the noon deadline to certify results to the state Division of Elections.Under Florida law, if the deadline passes with final certified results, the unofficial certified results filed last Sunday stand. Those results show Murphy ahead by .58 percent – above the .5 percent spread which would trigger an automatic recount.West officials were not immediately available for comment.However, determined not to let those meddling kids (i.e., the voters) foil his plans, Allen West's campaign attorneys are springing into action, or rather into a court room, to block the automatic certification of those results.
Attorneys for Allen West have been dispatched to the St. Lucie County courthouse for request an emergency hearing on the noon deadline the St. Lucie County canvassing board missed to certify results.More on the events of the last 24 or so hours are below the Sunday Squiggle.
In recent days, I did a couple of diaries on the rulings of hearings taking place first back on November 9th in Palm Beach County, and then on this past Friday in St. Lucie County for the FL-18 race between Murphy and West. You can go back and at least get a gist of the drama that has been unfolding there.
As promised, I'm following up on the situation that has been taking place in St. Lucie County, where their Canvassing Board decided to do a recount of the rest of the early voting ballots, which is at least part of what West had been seeking, but the courts could not order them to do. The canvassing board made the decision to do so anyhow, and I'm sure that having the West campaign lobbing grenades at them about the integrity of their election might have had something to do with it.
Last Sunday, the canvassing board agree to recount ballots cast the last three days of early voting after election officials revealed that machines had been unable to read some of the electronic memory cartridges. West’s attorneys then sought a recount of all early ballots after the elections office admitted double-counting some ballots and ignoring others on election night.So, the recount of those other ballots started yesterday (Saturday) morning, and went until after 10pm last night. Much to the unhappiness of the West campaign representatives, who wanted to plug on until it was done, the recount was shut down for the night, and resumed again at 8am this morning. Per the Palm Beach Post:
St. Lucie Canvassing Board member Tod Mowery told observers that they would have to clear out of the deserted shopping mall where the ballots were being counted because the mall’s security system would be triggered after 10:30 p.m.Apparently not all of West's supporters are quite so sanguine.
Some West supporters said they were satisfied with what they had seen and would respect the outcome, regardless of who wins. The only ballots remaining to be counted are ballots with write-in candidates and other questionable ballots. The dealine for the state’s 67 supervisors of elections to submit their certified results to the state Division of Elections in noon today.
West supporters, upon learning that the deadline was missed, have crowded into the ballot-counting area shouting “Count our vote!” Others have heckled elections officials, blaming them for ending the recount last night at 10 p.m. because the security system in the vacant shopping mall where the ballots are being counted would be triggered if the counting continued.Even if the certification of a Murphy win stands, there are still avenues to contest the results that the West campaign could look into:
The three-hour hearing ended with Circuit Judge Larry Schack’s decision to let the counting continue because an obscure and rarely used law allows the loser to contest the final results after all the ballots are counted. Under the law, unsuccessful candidates or taxpayers living in the district can challenge the results by filing a legal complaint within 10 days of the final certification, which will happen on Tuesday.West's campaign folks are even now trying to get an emergency hearing scheduled in St. Lucie County. Stay tuned, folks.
The complaint, called an election contest, can be filed only under several strict conditions: misconduct, fraud, bribery or corruption by an election official; the winner is not eligible for office; illegal votes or rejection of enough legal votes to change or create doubt in the results.
After Friday’s hearing West’s attorney declined to comment on whether West would file an election contest if Murphy, currently leading West by 1,907 votes, is declared the winner.
Other outcomes that could keep the race alive include a mandatory recount, which would be triggered if the race is within 0.5 percent or closer. As of Saturday morning, when the recount began, Murphy held a .57 percent lead over West. Should Murphy lose, he, too, could file an election contest or go back to court and challenge Schack’s decision not to stop the recount.
“That hasn’t even been contemplated,” said Sean Domnick, Murphy’s attorney. Shortly after losing Murphy’s bid to stop the recount, Domnick criticized West’s legal challenges. “Allen West should stop wasting taxpayers dollars. Nothing is going to change the fact that Patrick Murphy is and will be the congressman for District 18.”
UPDATE: Apparently, it is now being relayed that the St. Lucie County elections folks DID get their new totals submitted to the State of FL on time, and those results show an even BIGGER lead for Patrick Murphy.
Oh, and hey Rec List! Thanks all!
Neither candidate was present Saturday or Sunday at the office of Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker during the recount. Nor was Walker herself, who was hospitalized Friday.
Walker's administrative assistant, Annie Clark, oversaw elections workers during the weekend effort.
"We made the noon deadline," she said.
"Twelve o'oclock is the certification deadline," said Eric Johnson, senior advisor to the Murphy campaign. "When that certification deadline passes, the last results posted are the official results."So, no official word yet from the state (unsurprising, since it's a Sunday) on what results were accepted by them as being the final word. However, even if the certified election shows Patrick Murphy as the winner, it doesn't mean Allen West is going to concede any time soon, if ever. I'm still envisioning him barricading himself into his Congressional office with furniture and forcing a standoff with the Capitol Police in D.C. when Murphy shows up to work on his first day. Shall we start a betting pool to see how long it takes West to say "uncle"?
Johnson said he had consulted with a lawyer before arriving at that announcement.
However, Clark said election officials got the results to the state in time.
"We met the noon deadline," Clark said.