Candidates in close races who find themselves contemplating whether to seek a recount of the ballots — and the resolution of related questions about the quality and character of the initial count — need to have some standard for determining when it is reasonable to make the demand. Certainly, if the difference is a handful of votes, no one would argue with seeking a recount.
But what about when the margin is larger, such as the 7,316-vote difference between Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg and Justice David Prosser in the hotly contested race for state Supreme Court? Was it unreasonable for Kloppenburg to seek a recount?
Not if you ask a Republican.
Back in 1960, when the closest presidential race in modern American history was decided for Democrat John Kennedy, the Republican National Committee and state Republican parties sought recounts in 11 states, including Texas. Kennedy’s advantage over Republican Richard Nixon in Texas in the initial count was 46,000 votes. While Democrats objected that Kennedy’s margin was too large to be overturned, Republicans argued that allegations of voting irregularities in a number of Texas counties justified the demand.
Similarly, in the 1976 presidential race, after Democrat Jimmy Carter beat Republican Gerald Ford in Ohio by more than 9,000, Republicans sought a recount of the votes in that state.
And just last year in Minnesota’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Mark Dayton led Republican Tom Emmer by a little less than 9,000 votes. A hand recount of the state’s ballots confirmed Dayton’s winning margin was 8,770 votes. Emmer’s campaign and the state Republican Party continued to wage court fights and challenge ballots until more than a month after the election, when Emmer finally conceded. In all three cases, Republicans made reasonable requests for recounts, even if those requests failed to overturn the results.
But Wisconsinites know that recounts can alter results.
John Nichols is the associate editor of The Capital Times.
Full Article: John Nichols: Recount reasonable — just ask a Republican.