Donald Trump’s unfounded allegation that the election was rigged was dangerous to our democracy. So is Pat McCrory’s.
McCrory, the Republican incumbent, trails Democrat Roy Cooper by about 5,000 votes in the race for governor. With such a small gap and 4.5 million votes cast, no one can blame McCrory for wanting to make sure every vote is counted and counted accurately.
Declining to concede is one thing. Alleging intentional misconduct absent any evidence is another, and North Carolinians should emphatically reject it. Besides baselessly impugning public servants, it undercuts the credibility of the entire electoral system and so contributes to the crumbling of the public’s faith in its elected officials.
McCrory’s campaign touts a complaint filed by Thomas Stark, the N.C. Republican Party’s general counsel, in which he alleges “malfeasance” by the Republican-controlled Durham County Board of Elections. McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz accused the board of “inexplicably trying to protect their damaged reputation and prejudging the outcome.”
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McCrory and Stark, of course, have a dog in this fight. So does Cooper, whose campaign has claimed victory before all the votes have been counted.
Bill Brian has a clearer view of things. A Republican, he chairs the Durham County Board of Elections. It, like all county election boards in the state, is made up of two Republicans and one Democrat.
“The Board of Elections only has one agenda,” Brian said, “and that is to make sure that everyone in Durham County who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to vote in accordance with the law and that those votes are accurately counted.”
Durham had a series of problems on Election Day. Technical problems prevented workers from checking voters in electronically. The switch to paper caused delays in people getting to vote.
Then, about 94,000 votes from five early voting sites and one election-day precinct wouldn’t upload to the county’s computer. So workers read the numbers off of backup tapes and entered those into the system. That process was overseen by board members of both parties, the director of elections, a representative of the state Board of Elections and others.
There’s no indication any votes were miscounted, but McCrory wants the votes manually counted. That’s an understandable request, and if that will ensure the election’s credibility, it should be done.
We doubt it will change the results much if at all. If anything, delays in Durham County were more likely to hurt Cooper given how heavily Democratic the county’s voters lean.
Even more important than Cooper winning or McCrory winning is for every vote to be counted correctly and transparently, including provisional, absentee, overseas and military votes. Let that be done, and for all to see.
Once it is, McCrory and Cooper need to accept the results. And the General Assembly, which some have speculated will step in and decide the outcome itself, should stay out of it. Voters decide our elections, not partisan legislators. Everyone needs to trust but verify, respect the election process and honor the voters’ will.