“If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.”
— Orson Scott Card
Sour grapes, poor loser, and bad sport! I have heard many different comments regarding the recount request for the election result regarding Charlestown's mayor race. In following local chat discussion one thing has become perfectly clear to me as an observer. There are a lot of hardworking, honest, patriotic Americans who vote and understand very little about the process in its entirety.
It is a simple straightforward process when everything goes perfect. If we lived in a perfect world, every election would run as smooth as silk. No world is perfect and therefore no election goes without some hitches or glitches.
As a guy who has in the past run a poll site as an inspector on Election Day, I feel fully satisfied that not only is Bob Hall and his campaign making a certainly reasonable request; I am confidant were it me, I would do the same thing. I am also fairly confidant while a very small change in the final tally is not only possible but likely probable, its scope is very unlikely to result in a change of the original decision on election night.
At a polling place that accommodates voters, it is not uncommon for a person who comes to vote that for some reason doesn't fit the common voter profile. Therefore the inspector will have an envelope designated for provisional votes. There can be many instances where someone is allowed to vote on a provisional basis. One of the more common would be they forgot to bring the required ID, however, everything else checks out. That person will be allowed to vote on a provisional basis and has 10 days to come to the Clerk's office with the proper identification to verify they were properly registered and legally identified, before that vote will be run through the voting machine.
The provisional ballots envelope stays sealed until the clerk and proper members of an Election Board can observe the opening of that envelope and the verification of the ballot being made to count as a vote. Regarding the Charlestown race, once the provisional ballots were actually verified and counted, there was a total of two votes and those went to Treva Hodges.
Ideally, any person who shows up with an intention to vote and is not properly registered at another poll site should be allowed to vote provisional and the validity of that particular ballot would be scrutinized before being counted or disallowed. It can be referred to as a “fail safe” process to ensure nobody is turned away on Election Day.
An absentee ballot process has actually changed in philosophy and practice over many years. Once it was mainly for people who had a hardship to make it to the polls on Election Day. Think of someone who is not going to be in town or a military service member stationed overseas. People now refer to it as simply another form of early voting. However, the process is the same where each Absentee ballot is kept sealed in an envelope before proper parties with representatives from both political parties overseeing the opening of the envelope and the verification of the legality of the ballot before it is counted.
In the Charlestown mayor's race, specifically, there apparently was confusion regarding a question about 83 late entry absentee ballots not being on the Monday report before the Election Day. Of those 83, it turned out the total was for the countywide election and only 6 were actually ballots cast in the city of Charlestown races.
Mayor Hall and his campaign has now filed a petition for a motion to hold a ballot recount. The petition is available online and there are several points that question the final tally for mayor of Charlestown. I personally think most are red herring issues that kind of are swinging for the fence. However, I feel certain the recount by hand will be allowed and take place. Both parties will be involved in picking legally approved counters and have representatives in the room to observe along with each candidate's lawyer, to ensure a legally sound and accurate result.
They will personally look at all ballots, particularly paying attention to any that might not have been marked properly for the computer to read. In such a case, all parties will discuss whether the voter intent is obvious and then count that vote. There will also be some “spoiled” ballots for review. An example would be if you know you screwed up a ballot and request another blank ballot. That “spoiled” ballot would be kept in a separate envelope and available for review by the counters and the Election board member. These latter two will more than likely be the subject matter for much discussion as far as if any additional votes will be allowed over and above what was tallied on Election Day.
As of the time of this column no actual day had been set for the election recount to begin. Once it has, a reasonable amount of time to complete the counting and reviewing of the ballots should take somewhere between one and two days — depending on the amount of discussion needed or perhaps more accurately the challenge between sides regarding whether certain ballots should or should not be counted.
Often, someone will vote for some races and make the considered decision not to vote for one or more offices on the ballot. This situation is referred to as an under vote.
One point I will make is that during this recount, the County Clerk Susan Popp will not be in the room. Other possible problems with ballots would include distinguishable marks on the ballot that might be a point of contention; an example was given to me where one voter clearly voted for a candidate, but marked out the office they were running for and wrote in another office.
In the interest of truly trying to make sure the will of the people is followed, I have no issue with having a ballot recount by hand. I also highly encourage anyone who wishes to more fully understand the voting process to volunteer as a poll worker on Election Day. It is interesting and very educational. And you do get a paycheck for your trouble.
— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com.
THANKSGIVING DAY COMMUNITY MEAL
I have to give a quick shout out to a wonderful lady name Robin Jones and her partner-in-crime, Allen Bottorf, as the two are doing a pretty great thing for the holidays. There will be a free community dinner on Thanksgiving Day that is being provided for anyone in the Henryville area who doesn’t have a family gathering or anywhere else to celebrate a Thanksgiving feast.
Robin and Allen would like to thank several anonymous donors who have made sure this thing will happen. One gentleman simply approached Robin and asked, “What do you need?” When she stated her needs, he told her to meet him in an hour and provided the needed turkeys. Although he is not listed on the flyer — I strongly suspect her husband, Chief Brad Jones of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, will be slopping a bit of gravy on the dressing in the serving line.
The serving will start at 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Henryville Community Church Building, 115 Lake Road, Henryville. For anyone who would love to join in the feast but does not have transportation, a call can be made to Allen at 502-644-7813 or Robin at 502-552-0029.