Monday, November 12, 2012
Partial Recount Underway in Florida's 18th Congressional District
by Clifford F. Thies A partial recount is underway in Florida's 18th Congressional District, where Democrat Patrick Murphy holds a narrow lead over incumbent Congressman Allen West. The recount concerns the early votes of St. Lucie County, where an election night recount (more simply, "refeed" of the cards into the card reader) flipped the lead in the contest from West to Murphy. (This makes today's recount/refeed a deja deja vu). According to local election officials, this recount will be restricted to the final three days tabulation of the early vote. Furthermore, there will be a recount of the vote cast for Mayor of Fort Pierce, which may affect all the contests - including the Congressional race - in that place. The West campaign considers this recount to be a sham, since the underlying question concerns a possible double-counting of some of the early vote. It would seem a simply matter to recount all the early vote so as to address this possibility. St. Lucie County is the Florida county that famously had 247,713 votes cast, when there are only 175,554 registered voters. For a turnout of 141 percent! Gertrude Walker, Supervisor of Elections for St. Lucie County, was quoted in the media as saying she had no idea why turnout was so incredibly high. “We’ve never seen that here.” Actually, there's a simple reason. The county wound up with so many offices and candidates and ballot questions, that they needed two cards for each voter, or two "votes" per, thinking of cards as votes. When you look at individual offices, there were no vote totals exceeding the number of registered voters. For example, for President, 123,301 cards were feed into the machine, of which the machine counted 123,301 votes, 407 no votes, and 42 "over votes" (where two boxes were filled in, disqualifying the vote). Barack Obama received 53.4 percent of the vote, Mitt Romney 45.5 percent, and the remainder were scattered across the large number of third-party candidates, independent candidates and random persons the state of Florida allows on its ballot these days, contributing to the need for two cards per voter. Of course, this is Florida, which has a history of election snafus. Does anybody remember the "Butterfly Ballot" of Palm Beach County of 2000, that cost Al Gore the election according to some? Well, this year's two card ballot caused some confusion among election officials on election night, and it seem only fair to re-feed the entire batch of early votes through the machines so as to allay the concern for the double counting of some of them.