Jay Cronley: Election becomes stranger than fiction
BY JAY CRONLEY World Staff Columnist
Sunday, April 15, 2012
4/15/12 at 4:23 AM
This isn't Harlan County in Kentucky, where, on the TV show "Justified," the law is subjective.
Three shows back, an election for sheriff was held there.
The incumbent was as crooked as a water moccasin and appeared to have an insurmountable lead after the early returns.
The challenger's watch party was held in a bar full of downcast supporters.
When things appeared to be at their gloomiest, the man in charge of the newcomer's campaign stood and offered hope by saying: "The election isn't over until the dead people vote."
Sure enough, late returns favored the new guy and got him elected.
This isn't a heavily populated place like Florida where ballots have shown up looking like a gator brought them to the counting shed.
This isn't Chicago in the Fifties, or Vegas in the Sixties, when votes might have been counted on the honor system.
This isn't a country new to elections with armed guards stationed outside the polling places.
This is April 15, 2012, in a middle-sized American city with all of the electronics.
You'd think we could get a small election straight at least by the second count.
Yet two weeks after an election for a state House seat involving only 2,800 and some-odd votes, nobody has been able to determine exactly who won, and possibly even how. Imagine being one of the politicians: "It looks like I won by two votes. Wait, somebody just said I lost by one. Hang on, after the recount, I stand to win by a single vote. But somebody just called and said they're recounting the recount. I can't take any more. I quit. Unless I won."
What could be easier than adding up an armful of votes?
Votes on cards go into machines and are automatically counted.
But machines make mistakes. Even in the most mechanical election featuring decent technology, a recount can come down to the most elementary element - paper ballots and paper boxes.
During the recount process, two uncounted ballots were found in a box under a voting machine.
According to one report, which seems to come from somewhere back in time, the candidate who lost the first count but won the recount could be sworn in Monday morning before anything else crazy happens.
Original Print Headline: Election becomes stranger than fiction