Should Durham residents take the recount of votes in the gubernatorial race personally?
“I think right now we have a taint,” Rhonda Amoroso, a Republican member of the State Board of Elections, said before casting her vote to force a recount in Durham. Amoroso mentioned problems with past elections and staffing changes that may have compromised the election.
The board voted 3-2 to order a machine recount of the 90,000 votes cast in Durham. The vote split along party lines, and followed a series of rulings that refuted the suggestion of irregularities in counting votes in Durham.
“The county should be applauded for what they did, not attacked,” said Kevin Hamilton, an attorney representing Roy Cooper. “This is what’s best in our election system.”
Workers were forced to enter information manually after ballot tabulators failed to read memory cards. When the numbers were read off and calculated from the paper tapes, representatives from both parties were present to witness the outcome.
Durham did not rig the outcome.
In forcing a recount, the State Board of Election feeds the myth that voting restrictions are necessary in securing the integrity of elections. The decision places Durham in the middle of the debate regarding the battle to restrict voter participation. Durham becomes the test case for voter fraud.
Could forcing a recount of votes in Durham be McCrory’s way of making a statement before saying goodbye? Is this one of those “I told you so” moments following court rulings against North Carolina’s voting ID law and attempts to limit early voting? If so, the recount of votes in Durham is an attack on Durham voters.
It’s not how the election was handled in Durham; it’s who was allowed to vote. The people who showed up to vote in Durham are the people Republicans have fought tirelessly to keep from voting.
The recount follows a federal appeals court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law. The court said the law deliberately targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls.
The court found that Republican leaders drafted bills to restrict voting after receiving data that indicated that black voters would be most affected.
“We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,” wrote members of the court.
How else can you explain a decision that lacks evidence of irregularities?
“Mere suspicion, or reasonable suspicion, is not enough,” Hamilton said. “Uncertainty is not enough. ... The law isn’t ‘gee, I’m a disappointed losing candidate in the election; I can ask for a recount just to see.’”
The recount is about who votes in Durham. It’s an attack on a progressive agenda that often shows up at the state capitol to dispute laws passed by the General Assembly. The recount challenges the voices of black and Hispanic voters. It questions the politics of those who attack HB2 and other laws that limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ community.
“The city of Durham will always stand strong to protect the safety of the people of this city and to defend our progressive values – whatever the character of the president of the United States, and whatever the policies he or she may choose to pursue,” members of the Durham City Council wrote in “A Letter for the People of the City of Durham” (http://nando.com/4al). “We will never back down from our shared belief that the city of Durham is and must remain a place where all people are valued, where all people are respected, and where all people are protected,”
No matter how many times you count, the conclusion will be the same.
Every voice is represented in the Bull City.
There’s no need to cheat when the goal is inclusion.
Carl Kenney is the executive producer of “God of the Oppressed,” an upcoming documentary that explores black liberation theology. He is the author of “Preacha’ Man” and “Backslide.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org