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Recount Begins Today in AZ Congressional Race

TUCSON (CN) - A recount will begin today in the election for former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford's seat, after a federal judge refused the incumbent Democrat's request for a restraining order.

Congressman Ron Barber on Nov. 24 asked that the recount be postponed until 133 contested ballots were counted.

Barber lost to Republican Martha McSally by 161 votes in the race for the Second Congressional District, according to the first count.

Barber won a special election for the seat in June 2012, after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was injured in a mass shooting in 2011. Because this year's Nov. 4 race was determined by less than 0.1 percent of votes cast, a recount is automatic.

But Barber and three voters claimed that election officials improperly rejected 133 early and provisional ballots, including those of residents who had moved within Pima County since the last election and others with an alleged "signature mismatch."

However, on Thanksgiving day, U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson refused to stop Secretary of State Ken Bennett from going forward with the Official Canvass of 2014 General Election, which is set for Monday at 11 a.m. in Phoenix.

"The Court finds that plaintiffs have not met their burden to show either likelihood of success on the merits or serious questions going to the merits," Jorgenson wrote. "They have the burden and have not shown a pervasive error that undermines the integrity of the vote."

The judge added: "Plaintiffs point to no case where scattered election-procedure violations regarding a small number of voters was found to raise a constitutional violation warranting a federal court's entry into the details of the administration of an election. Certainly, they point to no cases where a court enjoined further action by state electoral officials after the election. Thus, while the Court is not unsympathetic to the plight of individual voters whose ballots may have been improperly rejected, the Court finds that plaintiffs have not met their burden to show pervasive error that undermines the integrity of the election."

McSally declared victory on Nov. 12.

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