Once again the election is over, and not over. The razor-thin campaign to be Virginia’s next attorney general has entered the recount phase. This is the time for both sides to put politics aside and strive for a scrupulously fair process, regardless of the result. On Election Night, Republican Mark Obenshain clung to a slight lead. After all returns were in, Democrat Mark Herring was on top by fewer than 14 dozen votes out of more than 2 million. He has been certified the winner. Obenshain, as expected — and as is wholly appropriate to the situation — has requested a recount. A Herring victory would give the Democrats a sweep in the three statewide offices. An Obenshain win would salvage something of the season for Republicans. It seems unlikely the certified results will be overturned, but not impossible. Therefore, both sides will be very motivated to count their own votes and challenge the opponent’s. But instead of this, every vote should be judged on one criterion: Did that vote adhere to all of the pertinent rules?
Faith in the results has already been clouded. At the same time the results were certified, Charles Judd, chair of the State Board of Elections, surprisingly (and arguably unnecessarily) called the whole process into question, citing two problems.
First, some voters who cast provisional ballots in Fairfax County, a Democratic bastion, were given more time than voters in other jurisdictions to prove their ballots were legitimate. Second, Judd opined that absentee ballots were not handled consistently across the state — for instance, some localities apparently counted ballots with no voter’s signature while other places threw them out. Judd said he was “concerned about the lack of uniformity, that there be no differences in any of the localities in how votes are counted.”
I am less worried about the first case than Judd is. The action of the Fairfax electoral board (which consists of two Republicans and one Democrat, incidentally) was not illegal or even improper: It exercised discretion available to local registrars in extending the deadline in certain cases. But an argument can be made that such discretion should not exist, or at best must be approved by some higher entity, and only when very good reasons are given. This would prevent the appearance of impropriety that some have already found in Fairfax.
Full Article: It’s not who wins, but how | roanoke.com.