Judge denies Rep. Allen West's motion to impound ballots

, The Associated Press


Allen West
Allen West

Palm Beach Circuit Judge David Crow refused today to grant an injunction that Congressman Allen West could have used to pursue a recount in his re-election race where he’s running behind.

West, a Republican Tea Party firebrand and the apparent loser in a race against Democratic political novice Patrick Murphy, was not in court when Crow said, “The plaintiff has woefully failed to establish a reason for an injunction.”

West’s attorney, Shari McCartney of Tripp Scott in Fort Lauderdale, claimed irregularities took place in the counting procedures.

McCartney alleged Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher has been arbitrary in allowing West volunteers to observe the vote count.

When Crow asked if observers are allowed to monitor the count, she said, “Sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not.”

She asked Crow to devise a process that would ensure transparency, but he insisted the process already was laid out in state law.

Kenneth Spillias, representing county election officials, argued the motion was premature because there has been no official or unofficial declaration of a winner and no evidence presented of misconduct.

“The proper remedy is a post-certification contest of the election,” said Spillias, managing shareholder with Lewis, Longman & Walker in West Palm Beach.

The count is due Saturday, and a contestant cannot file a complaint until 10 days after the last board responsible for certifying results has done so, according to state law.
West would have to wait until after election officials submit their results to the state
Division of Elections and that office certifies the results.

‘No Evidence’

Gerald Richman of Richman Greer in West Palm Beach sat with Spillias and briefly spoke on behalf of Murphy, who entered the case on a motion to intervene.

Richman described McCartney’s argument as so much “sound and fury signifying nothing, because there’s no evidence.”

Richman reiterated what Crow said from the bench — affidavits used to establish some hint of misconduct said nothing of substance. He insisted the process is transparent and moving forward without any objection from the Republican Party or the other election monitors.

Spillias argued and Crow noted in his reasons for denying the injunction request that impounding the ballots was standard procedure, and they would be available for examination by law for 22 months.

Despite the ruling, McCartney said afterward that her side was “thrilled with the response we got.” She said she came to get reassurances that the count would be transparent, “and we got that.”

Murphy holds 50.39 percent of the vote, with a margin beyond the 0.5 of a percent difference that would trigger an automatic recount.

West represents the 22nd Congressional District, but the outspoken first-term congressman lost much of his Republican base during redistricting. Rather than run in his old district, he chose the neighboring 18th District, where he felt his chances were better.

The 18th encompasses parts of Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties.
West wrote the elections supervisor in St. Lucie County expressing concerns about double counting and requested an explanation.

“If satisfactory answers are not forthcoming, we may need to direct our attorneys to take further legal actions to resolve these serious legal questions,” wrote Tim Edson, West’s campaign manager.

What's being said

  • marc cooper

    west needs to go...no place for him in our democracy

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