Gertrude Walker, St. Lucie County Elections Supervisor, responds to voter group's lawsuit

St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker has responded to a voter advocacy group's lawsuit by claiming her office did make about half-million documents from the 2012 election available.

True the Vote, which requested the records and then sued Walker over their availability, just never showed up to check them out, Walker's legal response states.

The nonprofit group filed the lawsuit earlier this month in federal court in Fort Pierce. True the Vote planned on using the records in its own audit of the District 18 race, where U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, defeated Republican ex-congressman Allen West.

The group tied to a Texas Tea Party chapter requested a long list of records dealing largely with inactive, ineligible and noncitizen registered voters. True the Vote's complaint claims it never received those records, and cites the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Florida Constitution to demand access to them.

According to a response by Walker's attorney, Cynthia Angelos, True the Vote agreed to visit St. Lucie to look at the records on Jan. 28. No one showed up, and the St. Lucie Elections Office couldn't reach anyone to reschedule, the response states.

Pamela Wohlschlegel, who heads the Palm Beach County Tea Party, joined the Houston-based group in the lawsuit.

"At any time subsequent to January 28, up to and including the present, Plaintiffs could have completed the document inspection by scheduling a visit via email, or telephone, or simply appearing, even announced, at Defendant's office," the response states. "Plaintiffs instead filed the instant complaint."

In the 2012 cycle, the St. Lucie Elections Office struggled with faulty memory cards that held vote counts. Workers also double counted or didn't count ballots and didn't initially account for a box of 306 ballots. The issues spurred on a partial recount and full recount of early ballots, and the canvassing board missed its deadline to report updated results to the state by seconds. Interested parties in Murphy's victory over West scrutinized the process.

Walker and the candidates racked up legal fees during the recount and court challenges. West also paid more than $19,000 to Stuart-based attorney Mark Miller's office for legal services in the St. Lucie recounts.

Walker reported $52,000 in legal fees for Angelos' services during the recount. She requested another $300,000 from the County Commission because of unexpected election costs.

Murphy spent more than $88,000 on lawyers from West Palm Beach-based Richman Greer and Sandler, Reiff, Young, & Lamb PC in Washington, D.C., campaign finance reports show.

Judge Donald L. Graham and Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch Jr. have been assigned to the case.

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