Allen West concedes after preliminary recount
After a nail-biter of a race, in which all manner of irregularities surrounding the vote counts in St. Lucie County came to light, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) has conceded the election to Democrat Patrick Murphy. “I will take no further action to contest this election,” West wrote on his Facebook page:
For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly. We have made progress towards that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process. While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election.
While there are certainly still inaccuracies in the results, and the actions of the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections rightly raise questions in my mind and for many voters, after much analysis and this past weekend’s recount in St. Lucie County, our legal team does not believe there are enough over-counted, undercounted or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election.
While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change. Given the extremely high evidentiary hurdles involved in a successful challenge, I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success. Therefore, we will not contest the certification or challenge the seating of Congressman-elect Murphy.
“Serving the people in the House of Representatives has been among the highest honors of my life,” West continued, “but this seat does not belong to, or for that matter, to any individual. It belongs to the people.”
He went on to congratulate his opponent, Patrick Murphy, and offered his thanks to his wife and children, his congressional and campaign staff, and “most importantly” his supporters. “I am humbled by the dedication and perseverance of our supporters, and their commitment to a free and prosperous America,” West wrote. “I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for our campaign, but most importantly, what they have done, and will continue to do for our country. None of us should let the outcome discourage us. We should only redouble our resolve.”
Writing at National Review yesterday, John Fund – co-author, along with Hans von Spakovsky, of a recent book on election funny business called Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk – took a look at what West has been up against in St. Lucie County:
Democrat Patrick Murphy, who leads West by some 2,000 votes, is trying to stop a full recount of controversial early ballots cast in St. Lucie County. His current victory margin is just large enough to avoid triggering an automatic recall of all precincts and all votes.
Then there is Gertrude Walker, the 32-year-veteran election supervisor of St. Lucie County, who has spent much of the last two weeks explaining why her office completely botched the count. She admitted that her office had acted in “haste” in issuing election results, and that “mistakes were made.” Among her mistakes was failing to count 40 of the 94 precincts under her jurisdiction on Election Night — and then counting the other 54 twice. Indeed. On Friday, her office announced it had “discovered” 304 additional early votes left in a box. None had been counted.
But Walker wasn’t available for comment. She has been hospitalized for unknown reasons.
The news was one reason that Florida’s secretary of state has dispatched a team of experts to audit St. Lucie’s procedures. The St. Lucie Election Canvassing Board voted to approve a complete recount of all the early ballots. It began the recount on Saturday but stopped it at 8 p.m. because the county building’s security system was set to be switched on later that night. Some people complained that the alarms have been switched off in the past to allow county business to continue after hours, but their complaints were ignored. The recount resumed on Sunday morning, but it missed the noon deadline to submit the county’s final returns to Florida’s secretary of state.
So, on Sunday, the previous results—the ones showing Democrat Murphy ahead—were sent to Florida’s secretary of state for certification.
Sounds like a lot of work needs to be done at the St. Lucie Election Canvassing Board. I wouldn’t count on anything actually happening. As Fund pointed out, there have been irregularities in St. Lucie County stretching back for a decade. The American electoral system is very forgiving of such things.
West will have a lively future as a speaker, writer, and activist, and of course he can plan a return to Congress in the next election. He lost this race largely because of redistricting; there are other districts in Florida where he would be a strong contender. Or maybe not even in Florida. West is originally from Atlanta, whose Journal-Constitution reported last week on efforts to bring West to Georgia for the next election:
Sue Everhart, chairman of the Georgia Republican party, said Monday she would love it if West, an Atlanta native and Grady High School grad, returned to his roots.
“I would be glad to have him come back to Georgia and at some point run here,” Everhart told my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy during a discussion about diversity within the Republican party. “I would certainly try to help him because he has done his job. The way he ran his race didn’t in any way interfere with the job he did. He ran as a Republican, a conservative Republican.”
Everhart called the one-term West “one of the finest congressmen this country’s ever had.”
Maybe he’ll even get to run in a district that counts all the ballots correctly on Election Night.