WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge has denied a request by U.S. Rep. Allen West to impound voting machines and recount ballots after election results showed his bid for the 18th Congressional district was headed for possible defeat.
The election results, which had not been certified by supervisors of elections in Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties as of Friday afternoon, showed Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy had about 2,400 more votes than West -- more than the one half of one percent required to trigger an automatic recount.
Judge David Crow said the arguments West's attorneys made during a Friday afternoon hearing fell "woefully short" of what was necessary for him to issue an injunction.
Gerald Richman, an attorney for Murphy and a key figure in the 2000 presidential recount, called the hearing a "political stunt" and "unfounded."
On Thursday, Richman said West's attorneys would have to establish whether the voting was improper or illegal before a judge could intervene.
"They had no evidence," he said. "There's no basis in law. In fact, he's basically asking the judge to legislate from the bench -- which Republicans don't want judges to do."
Richman said West had ten days after elections officials certified the results to contest them.
"[An] election contest would mean that there's a filing before the filing board that challenges the result of an election," he said. "There has to be a court hearing with regard to that. The court hearing is going to decide, in effect, whether there were irregularities or who the winner is and then, ultimately, that ends up going on appeal if either party appeals it."
Asked whether there would be an appeal, West attorney Shari McCartney said they she was pleased with the outcome of the hearing.
"We sought today assurances from the court and indeed from the defendant that all the policies and procedures and the statutes would be adhered to, that we'd follow the law," McCartney said. "It would be transparent, it would be done with integrity. We got that. We're thrilled."