The usual crowd was hanging out in the parking lot of my neighborhood firehouse in Connecticut, sometime about 1965, when Mr. Andy drove by in his new Oldsmobile 98.
The old blowhard wanted to impress us kids with all its features and he boasted of the price he’d negotiated with the dealer, mocking him for applying $75 undercoating.
Funny how old anecdotes like that come to mind when people get penny wise and pound foolish, as they are in the current kerfuffle about vote recounts.
In Durham, as I write, there’s a controversial recount under way. Republicans wanted it. In Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Democrats want recounts, but Republicans are suing to stop them.
Political people have a basic philosophy about recounts. If they’re losing, they want one. If they’re winning, they don’t.
This brouhaha is mystifying. We just spent billions to elect a president, a Congress and a third of the Senate. Here, we spent tens of millions more electing a governor, a legislature and a Supreme Court justice.
Rational people, after all that, would want to know that the vote count is correct. But without a recount, half the population will feel the process was high-jacked by cheaters, thus destroying the value of the process as fast as road salt will corrode the undercarriage of a nice car in a New England winter. (That’s why I mention Mr. Andy.)
North Carolina Democrats should be salivating over the opportunity to recount the votes in a public, methodical process. They now have a chance to squarely counter-punch Republican “rigged-election” propaganda that supports GOP efforts at suppressing votes and undermining the democratic process.
Republicans have already embarrassed themselves since Nov. 8 by claiming that dead people, felons and South Carolinians voted in our election. Their “evidence” of such malfeasance has not withstood even preliminary scrutiny, and Republican county election boards have thrown out the Republican complaints.
As the president-elect screams, without evidence, that there were millions of fraudulent votes, Democrats have an opportunity to recount the votes here and throw one more haymaker into the Republican charge that Democrats rigged an election run by Republican election boards and that Republicans won, for the most part.
The recount could be the final bit of theater that convinces state voters that the whole Republican voter suppression effort of 2011-16, including voter identification cards, reduced early voting, restrictions on voter registration and now wolf cries about a rigged election that they mostly won, has been a fraud.
Republicans can’t substantiate voter fraud of the magnitude they claim. If there has been any fraud, it has involved these Republican accusations.
So let’s go ahead and count the gubernatorial votes twice more if that’s what we need to finally convince the public that there is no proof of a stolen election. In the end, we’ll know who won for sure, by exactly how much, and we will have paid a small price to protect free and fair elections, the undercarriage of our democracy.
Paul O’Connor has covered state government for 38 years.