When the counting is done

Published 9:36 am Monday, November 23, 2020

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Every vote counts. That is what every student is taught throughout their education. Civics, once a staple of high school classes, taught students about the electoral college and the history of past elections.

The entire nation is focused on a recount of the presidential race, especially in the state of Georgia. The odds of having two senate races in a runoff after the general election are beyond calculation. The fact that these races collectively could determine the majority party in the United States Senate makes it even more unbelievable.

Razor thin margins in multiple states give rise to comments about fraud and collusion. The national electoral count is as decisive for Biden as it was for Trump in 2016, the same count, in fact. Biden leads the national popular vote by over 5.5 Million votes.

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As the nation convulses about the closeness of the presidential election, I am reminded of my election for my first term as Mayor of the City of Donalsonville. I ran against a very worthy opponent. The results were closer than any election I have ever experienced.

How close? I won by two votes. There was a recount which resulted in an increase of one vote on my side, so I won by three votes.

I realize that the results of the election of the Mayor of the city of Donalsonville is not the same as the election of the President of the United States of America. Apples and Oranges, your might say.
On the other hand, the way we elect our officials is the same for a small town in Southwest Georgia as it is for the highest office of our land. Every legitimate vote counts. Every illegitimate vote does not count. It is really that simple.

The votes of my first mayoral election were not without controversy. There were six contested votes. It was not decided until the day after the election. That contest was somewhat like the election we watch on television today. Male versus Female. Black versus white. Race still lurks and lingers in so much of our discourse even today.

My opponent, Twynette Reynolds, contested the count, which was certainly her right given the close margin. Twynette and I sat together as they counted each ballot. At the end of the day, the recount resulted in an additional vote for me. I won by three votes.

The most important part of this story is that after the votes were finally counted, Twynette stood and extended her hand. She congratulated me on my win and offered to help me in any way she could. Without her gracious concession I could not have been a successful mayor. I received her support and encouragement for entire time that I served as mayor.

Our country has an election process. It has served us well for many decades. Even centuries. There is no credible evidence that the process has is broken.

Two votes. A recount. Three votes. A concession. A shake of the hand and an embrace of the future. This is the way our country’s elections are supposed to be.

Our president could follow Twynette’s example. Imagine her pain at losing by three votes. Imagine how civil and gracious she was in conceding defeat. Imagine how she enabled her opponent to succeed as mayor.

I survived a contested election and a recount. I am grateful for my opponent who graciously conceded despite the thinnest of margins. I am grateful for her acceptance of my narrow victory.

Sometimes the leadership for our nation comes from the smallest of towns. President Trump could learn from the civil and gracious actions of Twynette Reynolds.

Once these recounts are finished, I hope that we can move on to the problems we face as a country. Our success as a nation is not just about who wins, but how those who lose deal with that defeat.