• Val Agnew

Recounting a Recount: Bring it On


The one and only political campaign I have run (so far) was filled with firsts. We were in what's called a "Jungle Primary" meaning that we were a part of a large field of challengers, all of whom were basically just trying to achieve the strongest second place in the first round of voting. We managed to do just that, transforming from one of the lesser known challengers to fielding calls from reporters, receiving endorsements from powerful people, and having more volunteers than we knew what to do with.


In that runoff, the results were so close. We were short of the incumbent by a mere handful of votes. There was a recount. The following days were filled with checking precinct receipts against physical ballots, 'healing' provisional ballots, checking validity of others. After thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and little sleep, the results were virtually unchanged. We did not have the money to keep up the fight and so we conceded. We lost.


I tell this story because, much like Trump and his followers, we believed we'd been cheated of votes, as millions of people now believe about Trump (I'm not saying I agree with that assessment, simply that we were in a similar state of mind in our election - I would argue with valid concerns rather than invented ones). We fought for a recount. We observed the physical recounting. And we still lost. And this was a matter of a dozen votes. There could really have been enough votes switched to make a difference in our election, quite easily, but even then there weren't. So if you ask me, let them watch as election officials re-count every ballot by hand. If anything, I believe it will only strengthen the current result.


I am confident after having observed this process, albeit on a much smaller scale, and knowing down to the marrow in my bones that there was not, in fact, broad voter fraud on the part of Democrats, that if we allow as much re-counting and observation as can be allowed, the results will stay mostly unchanged. We are talking differences of thousands and thousands of votes. Recounts on this scale typically alter maybe a 100-200 votes in any direction. By my estimation, we only stand to benefit here, by reassuring at least some of the more reasonable Trump supporters that this is a valid result. For the rest, there is nothing that will change their mind anyway.


I also believe in the integrity of election officials on both sides of the aisle. There are and always will be corrupt public servants, but on the whole, people want a job because they aspire to do it well and serve the people. And I imagine that if I were a Republican secretary of state, being accused of allowing massive voter fraud, I would be pretty darn insulted. Additionally, the fact that many of these legal arguments have been summarily thrown out by Republican courts is a testament to their invalidity and the courts' independence. All of this gives me confidence.


There will always be people--too many people--who will never accept the results of this election. And I believe that the President has done permanent damage to our electoral process and our democracy as a whole by sowing this level of doubt in our most sacred democratic institutions and processes. But I take heart in knowing that we are hanging in there by a bureaucratic thread. I don't delude myself into thinking he can't do more damage in the days and months to come, but I do believe that there will be a day soon when he will not have the power he has now to fracture our nation.


Broken bones often heal stronger at the broken point. Perhaps our democracy will do the same.

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