Video: Republican commissioner now in charge of West-Murphy vote tabulation

Commissioner Tod Mowery is a Republican who was charged with overseeing Saturday’s vote tabulation in the District 18 race. Mowery is the vice-chair of  the board of county commissioners in St Lucie County. After a full 12 hour day of counting, the poll workers finalized the bulk of the work, and plan to be back at 8 a.m. to  finish up and announce the results.

Mowery talked about the process in an interview with BizPac Review. He expressed a desire to restore public trust in his county’s voting system.

Despite the 304 ballots found at the end of the night that will have to be hand counted, many observers have expressed confidence in the job he did.

“He’s running a tight ship,” said West attorney Chris Winkelman. “I have no complaints”

Many others expressed satisfaction with the handling of the process, calling it “fair.”

After a St. Lucie County circuit court judge Friday rejected Congressman Allen West’s plea for a full recount due to suspicious numbers, his team caught a break when the county canvassing board decided late Friday to go ahead with a new machine count.

Following hours of public testimony and the advice of a state auditor, the board decided that all eight days of early voting would be recounted Saturday. The about-face came after the board days earlier announced the final tabulation numbers of a partial recount, refused to answer questions and had a deputy escort people out of the building.

Even as Saturday’s recount was underway, Murphy’s attorneys fought to stop it, though the judge Friday gave the canvassing board full authority in the matter. Many said they found it hypocritical of Murphy attorney’s to argue on Friday that the board should have full authority under Florida law to decide if a recount is needed, only to tell the judge that he would fight any decision by that same board authorizing a recount.

St. Lucie County Democratic Party Chairwoman Celeste Bush said she was surprised by the board’s order for a recount and irritated that a state auditor was asked for an opinion before the canvassing board made the call.

Bush said she works side by side with the Democratic elections supervisor during elections and she sees nothing wrong with how the recent election was handled. In fact, Bush said, “the canvassing board acted illegally when they ordered the recount, since their were no proven flaws in the election.”

But Beverly Hires, an attorney and West volunteer, said she wasn’t surprised that Murphy’s objections to a recount didn’t hold up in court.

“Patrick Murphy’s attorney, though skillful, had insufficient legal and factual basis to stop the recount,” Hires said. “Frankly, I am shocked that anyone would want to stop the counting of votes.”

Hires, who attended Friday’s court hearing, took issue with the argument by Murphy’s attorney that the objections of a small minority of citizens should not spur a recount. Restoring the public trust was not a concern, she said.

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Michele Kirk

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