Elections offices under scrutiny for handling of Allen West ballots

Day two of examining ballots and counting votes in the Congressional District 18 race is on the horizon and Allen West’s supporters are crying foul.

According to Tim Edson, West’s campaign manager, they have good reason to be outraged. In a media release sent out Wednesday, Edson said:

Late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections ‘recounted’ thousands of early ballots.  Following that ‘recount’ Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes.  In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed, in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results.  The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor’s office last night could only be described as complete chaos.   Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, 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.”  

“The hostility and demonstrated incompetence” concerned Ellyn Snyder, a West volunteer in Palm Beach County, who described a day of tension Wednesday at the vote tabulation center in Riviera Beach. Military ballots, she said, were being recorded and written on by tabulators in a separate area of the room restricted from observers. Snyder said she brought this to the attention of an elections employee and was curtly told to speak with Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher. Bucher, though, was repeatedly unavailable throughout the day.

“Bucher gave a quick briefing to the press earlier in the day, and then she leaves us hanging with questions unanswered,” Snyder said.

Other volunteers said they were frustrated and don’t trust Bucher, a known partisan Democrat, since she burned Republicans by opening the polls for two extra days after early voting had ended. Bucher reportedly notified Democratic Party leaders but left Republican leaders to find out through liberal newspapers.

The West campaign has filed an injunction to impound the ballots throughout the district in case a recount is ordered. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, and the injunction is expected to be granted.

St. Lucie Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker denies any wrongdoing on the part of her county election officials and calls West’s request “unusual.”  She insists that the election was properly handled, despite the accusations from Wests team. But Tim Edson, Wests campaign manager said the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures when they locked the doors late at night and counted votes without any public access to observe. West was ahead before that improper count. Shortly after midnight, Murphy was announced the winner, but the race has not yet been called by the Associated Press.

Video: Partisan elections supervisor in charge of Allen West ballots rudely refuses comment

Michele Kirk

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