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Rep. Allen West Heads To Court Over Vote Count

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — Republican Congressman Allen West appears to have lost his bid for re-election in District 18 to Democrat Patrick Murphy. But West isn't going down without a fight.

Wednesday, West filed a motion to have paper ballots counted and to impound voting machines and all paper ballots cast. The motion was filed against the Palm Beach County Election Board.

West's attorney's also asked that any "voting machines and any associated equipment or documentary or record evidence, used in connection with the Election in this Election District be impounded to prevent further voting and/or to declare the intent of voters for votes cast on the Voting Machines."

In the filing, West attorney's said they "pray" that the court would grant the motion.

Murphy is clinging to a small lead in his quest to oust West and West's campaign manager said Wednesday they want a recount in St. Lucie County.

Murphy, the political newcomer, put out a statement early Wednesday declaring victory in the race.

"We are ahead 2,400 to 3,000 votes,  I would say that is a solid win," said Murphy, who added he is glad the vicious campaign is over.  "I'd like to focus on moving the country forward and working across the aisle."

West's campaign hasn't conceded and released this comment Wednesday.

"This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome.  Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance.  There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district," according to West's campaign manager Tim Edson.

The Associated Press has not yet called the race because it remains incredibly close.

With 100-percent of precincts reporting, Murphy had 160,328 votes, or 50.4 percent, to West's 157,782 votes, or 49.6 percent. The two candidates were separated by about 2,400 ballots.

Edson's statement went on, "Late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections "recounted" thousands of early ballots.  Following that "recount" Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes.   In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed, in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results. "

West said he will not comment further until after the court case is decided, according to CBS4's Carey Codd.

Murphy's slight lead is outside the margin that would require a recount in the Sunshine State.

"If the percentage does not fit within the statutory criteria for recounts, there exists no statutory mechanism for a candidate, group, or anyone else to have a recount done by the state or any supervisor of elections," Florida elections spokesman Chris Cate told CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.

Cate continued, "Also, we will not know if a recount is within the required percentage until we receive the first set of unofficial returns from each of the counties involved. They are not due until noon, Saturday."

The Palm Beach Post reports provisional and absentee ballots in Democratic-leaning Palm Beach County still need to be counted. Murphy's campaign manager told the newspaper the outstanding ballots weren't enough to overturn the results.

Representative West is a freshman Republican known across the country for his fiery tea party rhetoric. He has been one of the most outspoken conservatives in Washington, famously saying he knew dozens of Communists in the government.

Democrats had been targeting West's office to flip. West had raised much more money than Murphy, roughly a 4-1 margin, throughout the campaign capitalizing on his national name recognition.

Twenty-nine-year-old Murphy is a construction executive making his first run for office.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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