TRUE THE VOTE SUES ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLORIDA FOR FAILURE TO PERMIT INSPECTION OF CD-18 ELECTION RECORDS
HOUSTON, TX. February 4, 2013 - True the Vote announced today that it filed a lawsuit against the St. Lucie County, Florida Supervisor of Elections, to enforce record inspection rights under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) and the Florida Constitution. True the Vote demands that all records pertaining to the recent 18th Congressional District election and subsequent recounts between Rep. Allen West and Patrick Murphy be reviewed in order to perform a comprehensive third-party audit (True the Vote, Inc. v. Gertrude Walker in her official capacity as St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, Civil Action (No. 2:13cv14046)).
True the Vote seeks to compel St. Lucie County election authorities to grant complete inspection rights to all election records pertaining to the 18th District race and voter registration records under federal and state law. In addition, True the Vote demands that the court order the Supervisor of Elections to preserve all records. If granted access, TTV will determine a precise vote count, document any illegal participation in the election and offer solutions to prevent similar failures in future recounts.
“This dramatic recount was an extraordinary example of how our elections can suffer systematic failure,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We run the risk seeing episodes like this becoming ordinary if citizens do not demand answers and hold election officials accountable. The American people own the voting system – we have the right to ask tough questions when we witness the failure of one of America’s core functions.
“The clock is ticking on the opportunity for a comprehensive, outside audit of this recount,” Engelbrecht continued. “Each passing day heightens the risk of critical documents being disposed of. If you thought voter fraud could erode America’s confidence in elections, unchecked incompetence in the vote tabulation process will destroy all faith remaining in our systems.”
“Gone are the days when Motor Voter is a law used only by a couple of special interest groups. The law requires physical inspections, I hope we reach a quick agreement,” attorney J. Christian Adams of the Election Law Center said.
On November 6, St. Lucie County election administrators admitted that ballot tabulation machines suffered a malfunction, preventing early vote totals from being properly counted. County workers were forced to hand-feed ballots into tabulation machines as a result.
On November 8, West demanded a full recount of early votes and copies of poll sign-in records to compare voter participation against ballots cast. West’s requests were denied and ignored, respectively.
On November 9, West demanded that a Florida state court impound all ballots and voting machines, but made no claims of the sort True the Vote makes today in federal court. West’s requests in state court were denied.
On November 10, St. Lucie County “unofficially certified” the vote count for CD-18 and publicly acknowledged “uncertainty” over the early vote totals. St. Lucie County called an emergency meeting to “recount all ballots cast during early voting.” The county later reversed itself, only performing a partial retabulation. After the partial retabulation, the lead for Patrick Murphy decreased.
On November 13, Defendant Gertrude Walker held a press conference admitting that her staff acted with “haste” and that “mistakes were made” throughout the tabulation and partial recount process. Florida Division of Elections auditors were dispatched to investigate how 799 votes disappeared or changed hands during the partial recount.
On November 16, Defendant Walker claimed to find 306 early votes in a box at her office that had not been counted. The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board ordered a recount of all early votes, with a deadline set for noon on November 18.
On November 17, the full recount operation was relocated to a privately-owned property. County workers were evicted from the premises late at night, suspending the recount until the next morning.
On November 18, County workers failed to meet the deadline, instead certifying the original November 10 tabulation, which officials claimed “uncertainty” over the accuracy of the results.
True the Vote later demanded to review poll books, “voter credit” lists, felon files and others to perform a comprehensive audit of the CD-18 tabulations. Inspection rights were not granted and so this lawsuit was made necessary.
“My clients are demanding that Walker immediately allow an in person public inspection of all records relating to the election in Florida's 18th Congressional District between Allen West and Patrick Murphy,” local counsel Michael A. Barnett said.
True the Vote filed its complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida – Fort Pierce Division.
Click here to read True the Vote’s filing.
True The Vote (TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.
True The Vote NOW (TTVN) is a public policy organization dedicated to reforming our voting systems at state and federal levels. True the Vote NOW promotes solutions that increase citizen engagement and restore faith in our elections. For more information, please visit www.truethevotenow.org.
Voto Honesto (TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite www.truethevote.org.
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