Voting officials in St. Lucie County, Fla. reportedly missed a filing deadline on Sunday and Democrat Patrick Murphy seized on the misstep to declare victory in his congressional race against tea party favorite Allen West, according to WPTV.
“Today at Noon, it became clear Patrick Murphy will be officially certified as the next Congressman from the 18th Congressional District,” Murphy's campaign manager Anthony Kusich told WPTV
in a written statement. “The voters have spoken and Patrick Murphy is once again the clear winner. It is beyond time to put this campaign behind us and put the interests of the people of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches first.”
As of Sunday evening, Murphy led the incumbent West 166,257 to 164,353 in Florida's 18th district, which includes three counties. Following the recount of early ballots cast only in St. Lucie County, Murphy had 65,841 votes to West's 52,704 in that county.
The results were now expected to be turned over to the state Division of Elections for official certification.
Under Florida law in the event of an incomplete recount the original returns are automatically submitted for certification by the state.
"This is election is far from over," said West's campaign manager, Tim Edson, in a statement calling the results "highly suspect."
"We will continue to fight on behalf of all voters in District 18 to ensure a fair and accurate count of their votes," he added, without saying how the campaign planned to challenge the result.
The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board had resumed a recount of early voting results on Sunday, but failed to meet a state deadline to certify those results by noon.
The recount was expected to include 37,000 write-in and provisional ballots for District 18.
Meanwhile, the West campaign is reportedly planning to press the issue further in an emergency hearing and dismissed Murphy's claim of victory.
“As usual, Murphy’s people are full of garbage,” Edson told The Palm Beach Post
. “This is something the Secretary of State and governor will have to sort out.”
Edson charged that a retabulation of early votes showed that 900 voters cast ballots in precinct 93, which has only seven registered voters.
“We have concerns here,” he said. “The results are raising more questions.”
The Murphy campaign had sought an injunction to stop the recount but the request was subsequently denied.
On Friday, a state election auditor found a box of 306 early voting ballots that were never counted, according to WPTV.
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