The votes weren’t even fully counted in the race for Florida’s 18th congressional district when Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) demanded a recount, a request denied by a Palm Beach judge on Nov. 9.

With Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy leading by a razor-thin advantage of 2,100 votes at last count, the Republican congressman filed injunctions against the supervisors of elections in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties to impound voting machines and ballots to aid his recount request.

But Circuit Court Judge David Crow said the motion was “premature” since ballots are still being counted, according to the Palm Beach Post. He also said it is not the court’s place to determine elections procedures and that protocols were already in place to deal with a possible recount.

According to state law, a recount is triggered when there is a 0.5 percent margin in the candidates’ votes. In the case of West and Murphy, that threshold has not been breached.

West’s “invitation for judicial intervention in the middle of an election is nothing short of an invitation to chaos,” Ken Spillias, attorney for Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, said in court papers filed in answer to the congressman’s motion.

And there’s already enough weighing on the Palm Beach elections office. Efforts to complete the vote count were delayed as tabulation machines failed to read about 23,000 ballots due to printing errors. Those ballots had to be hand-printed and re-fed into the machine. But on Thursday night, many of those re-printed ballots were damaged by the machine, further delaying the count.

The supervisor of elections is required to submit unofficial results to the Florida Division of Elections by noon on Nov. 10.

In St. Lucie a hearing date has not yet been decided. West, a Tea Party darling, and his attorneys are alleging questionable changes in the poll numbers on election night, citing “disturbing irregularities.”

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Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO