Tea Party group plans recount of Allen West ballots

True the Vote, a Houston group that pushes for harsher voter restrictions, will review voting records from the race

By Jillian Rayfield

Published May 8, 2013 5:08PM (EDT)

A Tea Party group that is behind the recent push for tougher voter restrictions at the state level will review voting records from the failed reelection race of Allen West.

True the Vote, a Houston-based Tea Party group that bills itself as anti-voter fraud, will acquire voting records from the St. Lucie County supervisor of elections in Florida, including 2012 voting records from West's race, as well as voter registration records since 2009. In a press release, True the Vote said that it will conduct a "reconstruction and review" of the race to determine "exactly what happened before, during and after," which will be "unprecedented in that it will be led not by government entities or political parties, but by concerned citizens."

The Broward-Palm Beach New-Times reports:

The agreement is part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed in February by True the Vote and Florida Tea Party leader Pamela Wohlschlegel against St. Lucie Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker.

The suit alleged that Walker's refusal to provide the Tea Party access to voting records during the postelection recount of the West-Murphy race violated the National Voter Registration Act and Florida public records laws and injured Florida Tea Party members by "undermining their confidence in the integrity of the electoral process and the effectiveness of their vote." (Losing an election tends to do that.)

True the Vote has been pushing state legislatures to pass tougher restrictions on voter registration, and gained notoriety during the 2012 elections for, among other things, getting barred from monitoring elections in Columbus, Ohio, over possible fraud.

In an investigation for the New Yorker, Jane Mayer found that Hans von Spakovsky, a key backer of True the Vote, has been propagating a number of theories about voter fraud that have turned out to be false. For example:

Last year, in an op-ed piece that was nationally syndicated, he wrote, ‘A 2010 election in Missouri that ended in a one-vote margin of victory included 50 votes cast illegally by citizens of Somalia.’ He told me that these voters ‘could only speak Somali, even though to become a U.S. citizen you must learn English.’ Once again, when the case was examined by a judge, no fraud was found. Although the judge’s ruling had been issued before the column appeared, von Spakovsky didn’t mention it. He told me that the omission was justified, because the judge hadn’t investigated ‘the citizenship issue.’ Yet the voters’ citizenship was never in doubt. Translation assistance is available at the polls—citizens sometimes have shaky English—and the court had found merely that election officials had not made the voters take an oath before receiving help, as state law required. The judge determined that such a mistake ‘should not result in the disenfranchisement of the voters.’”

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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2012 Elections Allen West Florida Hans Von Spakovsky Patrick Murphy Republicans Tea Party Texas True The Vote