Does the rule of law exist anymore? So many questions are raised by Director Comey’s deferral. What did he mean by no rational prosecutor would pursue this case? Was he talking about the political, physical, or legal consequences? We may never know.
FBI’s Comey: Clinton ‘extremely careless’ about emails, but bureau will not advise criminal charges
FBI Director James Comey announced Tuesday that despite evidence Hillary Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified emails on a private server, the bureau will not recommend to the Department of Justice that criminal charges be brought against the former secretary of state.
“Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said.
They don’t have to be reasonable prosecutors. Many unreasonable cases are brought. Look at the Freddie Gray case. What is Comey talking about? Does he think a reasonable prosecutor would not bring a case they might not win? Or does he mean no reasonable prosecutor would challenge Hillary? Or worse, does he mean no reasonable prosecutor, expecting to live in safety with his family would bring this case.
About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
How did people around the world react to the American Declaration of Independence?
On Tuesday, July 9, 1776, the German printer Henrich Miller published the first translation of the Declaration, just four days after the English text was first published by John Dunlop whose printing shop was a few doors away in Philadelphia.
Many French people were eager to see the Declaration, but until 1778, when the French government announced its alliance with the rebels, producing a translation was a dangerous thing to do in France. Alleged translations were anonymous. The earliest-known French translation was published in the Netherlands.
Abroad, the Declaration had the greatest impact on debates leading up to the French Revolution (1789). The French referred frequently not only to the Declaration but also to the Virginia Bill of Rights, state constitutions and bills of rights and the U.S. Constitution. These documents, scholars Elise Marienstras and Naomi Wulf wrote, “acted as an indispensable guide or foil in the conception of their own principles.”
In London, the Russian chargé d’affairs Vasilii Grigor’evich Lizakevich learned the news about the Declaration and on August 13 wrote a dispatch to the first minister of the College of Foreign Affairs, Count Nikita Ivanovich Panin, making clear the significance of the Declaration: “The publication of this document as well as the proclamation of a formal declaration of war against Great Britain offer evidence of the courage of the leadership there.”
Russian newspapers published much information from America, but the actual text of the Declaration was suppressed there for eight decades. Meanwhile, the American Revolution inspired the Russian poet Aleksandr Nikolaievich Radishchev who wrote an ode called “Vol’nost” (Liberty). Apparently Empress Catherine wasn’t pleased, and Radishchev was exiled to Siberia. In December 1825, Russian army officers led the Decembrist Revolt against the autocrat Nicholas I, and they were hanged. Not until 1863, after czar Alexander II implemented some important reforms – notably the abolition of serfdom – was it safe to publish a translation of the American Declaration of Independence in Russia.
Although Spain provided some money to help Americans fight Britain in the Revolutionary War, this was because of the rivalry between those great powers. Spanish monarchs, like the French King Louis XVI who provided crucial assistance for the Americans, wasn’t interested in promoting democracy.
The first Spanish translation of the Declaration doesn’t seem to have been published until about 1868, more than nine decades after the Declaration, when Spain had its own Glorious Revolution. It involved the overthrow of Queen Isabella II and, two years later, resulted in the Spanish Republic. But royalists fought back, and in 1875 the monarchy was restored with Isabella’s son crowned King Alfonso XII.
Scholar Joaquim Olra reflected, “That the Declaration of Independence was so seldom translated into Spanish may be due to various causes. One might be Jefferson’s inclusion of the ‘pursuit of Happiness’ among the ‘certain unalienable rights,’ which goes against the Spanish understanding of the Catholic teaching on happiness, since this was always understood as attainable only in the other world.” Olra added that during the Glorious Revolution, many Spaniards talked about “derechos ilegislables [unalienable rights], an expression that was then completely new in the Spanish political vocabulary and that probably has never been used since.”
The first Japanese translation of the Declaration was in 1854, the year the United States and Japan signed a treaty in Yokohama, after more two centuries of isolation from the outside world. But that translation was based on an American history book written in Chinese.
Fukuzawa Yukichi, a great admirer of Benjamin Franklin’s enterprising spirit, was the first to produce a Japanese translation of the Declaration and the Constitution directly from English. This was a daunting task, because there weren’t any good English-Japanese dictionaries. According to Tadashi Aruga, a Japanese scholar, “There were no readily available Japanese words for such key Western concepts as freedom, equality and right. At first Japanese scholars were able to refer to Chinese translations of Western books. Increasingly, however, Japanese translators had to invent for themselves appropriate Japanese words. They found Japanese words of Chinese origin that could be redefined to convey Western concepts, rediscovered rarely used Chinese words, or created new words by making new combinations of Chinese characters.”
The Chinese translation of the Declaration of Independence wasn’t published until 1901. It appeared in Guomin Bao, a monthly journal published by Chinese students in Tokyo. “The concept of natural rights has been consistently alien to the Chinese mind,” explained translator Frank Li. “Natural and civil rights were terms that could not be found in the vast sea of Chinese political, social, philosophical and literary writing. Yet, on rare occasions, the word ‘freedom’ (ziyou) was used in poetry and other literary works to denote an unconstrained atmosphere. The word had no political or philosophical connotation.”
Since the time of the American Declaration of Independence, dozens of societies – including some communist regimes like Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam (1945) – have issued declarations of independence. While independence is generally important for a free society, it isn’t enough. Among the many essential elements are popular support for the doctrine of natural rights, secure private property, freedom of association, freedom of contract, freedom of trade, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, representative assemblies, term limits, a separation of church and state, a separation of powers with checks & balances, and other measures to limit government power. The more of these a society has, the more likely it will be free.
This day and every day, with them, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortune and our sacred honor.
The signers’ mutual pledge to themselves to sacrifice their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause of independence shows that these men took seriously their duties to the people of the new nation. (Photo: iStock Photos)
When reading the Declaration of Independence, it is easy to focus only on the sweeping language of the second paragraph and skip over the names and mutual pledge of the signers at its conclusion.
Though the principles enunciated in its opening paragraphs, such as the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, provide the moral and philosophical foundation on which the American regime rests, it is important to acknowledge that declaring principles alone secures nothing.
Principles need to be enforced by individuals who have the habits of character necessary to fight for them, and perhaps even die for them, if need be. In a time where talk of rights dominates our political discourse, a focus on duties is indispensable in order to teach citizens the responsibilities they owe toward each other and their posterity.
The signers’ mutual pledge to themselves to sacrifice their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for the cause of independence shows that these men took seriously their duties to the people of the new nation.
Of the 56 men who signed the declaration, 12 fought in battles as members of state militias, five were captured and imprisoned during the Revolutionary War, 17 lost property as a result of British raids, and five lost their fortunes in helping fund the Continental Army and state militias battle the redcoats.
Below we will explore the sacrifices the signers made on behalf of the American cause.
Thomas Heyward Jr., Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton
Thomas Heyward Jr. of South Carolina was a signer of both the declaration and the Articles of Confederation. Heyward drew the ire of the British when, as a circuit court judge, he presided over the trial of several loyalists who were found guilty of treason. The prisoners were summarily executed in full view of British troops. In 1779, he joined the South Carolina militia as a captain of artillery.
Heyward’s compatriot in the South Carolina delegation, Edward Rutledge, also served in the state militia. At age 26, Rutledge was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. After returning home from attending the Second Continental Congress in 1777, he joined the militia as captain of an artillery battalion.
Both Heyward and Rutledge aided their country in the battle at Port Royal Island, where they helped Gen. Moultrie defeat British Maj. William Gardiner and his troops.
Arthur Middleton, the last of the South Carolina delegation who served in the militia, took up arms against the British during the siege of Charleston in 1780. His fellow signers, Heyward and Rutledge, fought in that battle as well.
Upon the surrender of Charleston, all three men were captured by the British and were sent to a prison in St. Augustine, Florida, which was reserved for people the British thought were particularly dangerous. They were held there for almost a year before being released. On route to Philadelphia for a prisoner exchange in July 1781, Heyward almost drowned. He survived his fall overboard by clinging to the ship’s rudder until he could be rescued.
During the British occupation of Charleston, Commandant Nisbet Balfour ordered the seizure of many estates in Charleston, including those owned by Heyward and Middleton.
During his imprisonment, Heyward’s wife died at home, and his estate and property were heavily damaged. Rutledge’s estate was left intact, but his family had to sell many of their belongings in order to make the trip to Philadelphia to reunite with him after his release. Middleton’s estate was left relatively untouched, but his collection of rare paintings was destroyed during the British occupation of his home.
Thomas Nelson Jr.
Thomas Nelson Jr. of the Commonwealth of Virginia was appointed to the position of brigadier general and commander-in-chief of the Virginia militia by Gov. Patrick Henry in August 1777. At that time it was thought that the British would be making a full scale invasion of the state. Nelson was able to muster only a few hundred men to defend Virginia, but the British instead decided to attack Philadelphia.
Nelson inherited a vast family fortune, much of which he used to support the American effort. He personally paid for the return journey home of 70 troops he had led to meet the British in Philadelphia during the summer of 1778. In the spring of 1780, Nelson signed his name to a loan for $2 million that was needed to purchase provisions for the French fleet that was coming to America’s aid in the war.
As then-governor of Virginia, during the Battle of Yorktown he ordered American troops to fire upon his mansion, which had been commandeered by Gen. Cornwallis and his men.
A member of the New Jersey delegation, Richard Stockton, had his estate commandeered by the British for use as a headquarters. As they left, British troops burned all his personal effects—including his library, private papers, furniture, and clothes.
Though Stockton was in hiding at the time, he ultimately did not escape capture; a traitor led the British to his position in November 1776. He was held captive in Amboy, New Jersey, and was then sent to New York City where he was imprisoned in a jail reserved for common criminals. Incensed by his treatment, Congress worked with British Gen. William Howe to obtain his release.
Because of his small build and stature, George Walton was thought to be the youngest of the signers of the declaration (he was actually in his mid-30s). He hailed from Georgia and served as colonel in the first regiment of the state militia in 1778. During the siege of Savannah, a cannonball broke Walton’s leg, which led to his being captured. He was held captive for nine months and was released in the early fall of 1779 in a prisoner exchange for a British navy captain.
At the same time Walton was held prisoner, his wife Dorothy was captured by the British. She was imprisoned on an island in the West Indies and was eventually freed after a prisoner exchange. During the Waltons’ confinement, the British ransacked their home.
British troops destroyed the home of George Clymer of Pennsylvania in September 1777 when they captured Philadelphia. Though his home was outside of the city, it was right in the middle of the path of the British march. American loyalists pointed out to the British homes belonging to patriots, which of course included Clymer’s estate.
Clymer also contributed to the war monetarily. He converted his entire fortune into continental currency, a risky move considering the likelihood that the currency would be rendered worthless. He also told wealthy friends to contribute to the American cause.
A delegate from Pennsylvania, Robert Morris helped insure Washington’s victory at Yorktown by using his own credit to obtain the supplies necessary to defeat the British. He spent more than $1 million (not adjusted for inflation) of his own money to accomplish this.
While serving as superintendent of finance of the United States, Morris regularly used his own financial resources to obtain much needed supplies. Using his own funds, for example, he purchased one thousand barrels of flour for Washington’s men in late spring of 1778.
Lewis Morris of New York served as a major general in the state militia. Morris devoted himself to recruiting men to serve in the militia and to help keep supplies up, which was a constant problem. For almost the entire length of the war, the British occupied his home, Morrisania, and used it as their headquarters. This forced Morris to live off of his close friends and associates until the war ended in 1783.
John Hancock of Massachusetts, the man with the largest signature on the declaration, served in the militia as major general in 1778. Hancock was put in command of approximately 6,000 men during the Rhode Island campaign. That campaign was ultimately unsuccessful because the French failed to carry out their end of the bargain.
Caesar Rodney served in the Delaware militia as well, attaining the rank of brigadier general. Rodney famously road on horseback straight from Dover to Philadelphia to cast his vote in favor of declaring independence (the Delaware delegation was split). He was with his men in the field during the brutal winter of 1776, helped quash an uprising in Delaware (there were a large number of loyalists within the state), and helped in George Washington’s effort to defend Philadelphia from being taken by the British.
Carter Braxton of the Virginia delegation accumulated massive personal debts helping the American effort in the war. He loaned 10,000 pounds sterling to Congress, which was never repaid. He also spent much of his wealth outfitting American ships so that they could carry more cargo. Due to the British capturing some of his vessels and others being lost out on the high seas, he suffered great financial calamity. These accumulated losses left him bankrupt by war’s end.
A delegate from Connecticut, Oliver Wolcott served as captain and then major general in the state militia. In 1776, he was appointed to lead 14 regiments in defense of New York City. He also commanded thousands of men in the Battle of Saratoga. Wolcott worked tirelessly to recruit for the Connecticut militia, which, like the army in general, was sorely lacking in numbers within its ranks.
William Whipple of New Hampshire served as brigadier general in the state militia. He fought against Gen. Burgoyne at the battles of Stillwater and Saratoga (commonly pointed to as the turning point for Americans in the war) in 1777. The following year, Whipple participated in the retaking of Rhode Island.
Thomas McKean of Delaware served as colonel in the Delaware state militia. Once McKean was appointed to the office of President of Delaware in 1777, he was targeted by the British (the British captured John McKinley, the previous president). He had to move his family on five occasions because of raids by both the British and local Indian tribes.
Francis Lewis of New York signed the declaration on August 2, 1776. Although he was present when independence was declared a month earlier, the New York delegation did not get permission from the state’s legislature to sign the document. A few months after affixing his signature on the declaration, British troops destroyed the Long Island estate of Lewis. They took Lewis’ wife and put her in prison where she was tortured on a regular basis. Under the direction of George Washington, she was finally returned in a prisoner exchange two years later.
Known as the sage of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest of the signers of the declaration. Prior to setting sail for France in late 1776 to ask the French for assistance in the war, Franklin gave his entire fortune to Congress to help fund the war.
Hessian mercenaries plundered signer John Hart’s 400-acre farm outside of Hopewell, New Jersey. Prior to his farm being captured, Hart was forced to leave his family because of advancing British troops. During his absence, his wife died, and his children were sent to live with neighbors.
The estate of William Ellery of Delaware was burned down during the British occupation of Newport, Rhode Island. Ellery served in the Second Continental Congress until the British left Newport, which they held for three years. He returned home in order to salvage what was left of his property.
With his fortunes built on trade, Joseph Hewes of North Carolina was a vigorous proponent of the decision of the First Continental Congress to cut off all imports and exports with the British. This of course had the effect of drying up his wealth. Interestingly, Hewes also renounced his Quaker religion in order to support the war.
A delegate from Pennsylvania, James Smith served in the Pennsylvania militia as captain, colonel, and then as brigadier general. He was one of the first to raise men for the possibility of defending his home state, a duty he took up beginning as early as 1774.
Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, whose son and grandson both served as U.S. presidents, complained in a letter to Gov. William Livingston of New Jersey that his debts had accumulated substantially because of the “ravages” and “plunderings” of the British.
While William Floyd of New York served as a delegate in the Second Continental Congress, the British sacked his estate, forcing his family to flee. Though they made it safely to Connecticut, his family was left without a home for the duration of the war.
William Hooper of North Carolina outlasted British raiders who were looking to capture him and his family. In 1782, he and his family fled Wilmington after it fell to the British. Though much of his property was destroyed, he and his family were reunited at the conclusion of the war.
The British destroyed the home and plantation of Lyman Hall of Georgia. Luckily, his family escaped before the British arrived and moved up North to be with him.
Forty years ago tomorrow — on July 4, 1976 — the largest armada in human history sailed into New York Harbor to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States of America. It was composed of 281 large vessels and small craft numbering in the thousands, all led by 17 magnificent “tall ships.”
President Gerald Ford sat aboard the USS Forrestal as the watercraft paraded before him along with more than half a million people.
And everywhere you looked, there was an American flag.
This was no small thing. It is almost unimaginable today, but in 1976 in many quarters, the flag had gone out of fashion except as an ironic fashion statement — something you sewed onto the rear pocket of your jeans, so that it was sat upon.
At my tony Manhattan private school, the bicentennial was celebrated with a day-long symposium titled “The American Dream: Has It Turned Into a Nightmare?”
The country was in a bad mood for good reason. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died in a war that ended with our countrymen scurrying onto helicopters from the roof of the Saigon embassy as the city fell to the Communists.
A president re-elected with 61 percent of the vote was compelled to resign because he and his people tried to bug the rival party’s headquarters.
Crime and inflation were on the rise everywhere. Arab potentates forced us into endless gas lines through an illegal embargo — an act of economic warfare — and we did nothing about it.
New York City, the world’s financial capital, went broke.
America felt like it was in decline because it was in decline. America felt bad about itself because the leading figures of its culture and its politics had lost confidence in the American experiment of its culture and its politics, and there was no one speaking up for it.
But our collective self-abasement in the 1970s did not reflect the deeper truth about the United States, even with the United States at a low ebb. On that day of the tall ships, we saw our country again as it was and is — the shining city on a hill, the last best hope of Earth.
On the cusp of Independence Day 2016, America remains what it has always been — the greatest and most far-reaching political experiment in human history. But as it enters its 241st year, there are few of us who really feel it.
The spirit of the left was captured over the past year by Bernie Sanders, who has almost nothing good to say about the current condition of the United States and claims the country is being destroyed by inequality.
The spirit of the anti-left has been captured by Donald Trump, who claims the country is no longer great and needs him to make it great again. The Republican Party has spent the years of Barack Obama’s presidency characterizing them as a cataclysm from which we may never recover.
In so doing, they followed the Democrats, who spent the Bush years characterizing them as a cataclysm from which we would never recover.
America remains what it has always been — the greatest and most far-reaching political experiment in human history.
Obama came into office belittling the idea of American “exceptionalism,” but now would wish people thought the country great because he’s led it for the past 7½ years.
Hillary Clinton wants people to think America was great when her husband was president, stopped being great when he stopped being president, got pretty great when her party took over again, but still needs her either to restore Clintonian greatness or reach new greatness or whatever you want just so long as she can be in the White House again.
The point here is that America has been getting it from all sides for the past 15 years. At different times and for different reasons, everyone has had an interest in painting things black.
And it’s an enormous wrong that’s being done here, an offense against the truth.
America is not great because of its leaders, who change, or because of the ideology they espouse, because that changes too as the views of the electorate change. America’s greatness has to do with the way it is organized. The central figure in the United States is the person. The central figure in the United States is you.
In the United States, according to the astounding document that was signed in Philadelphia 240 years ago tomorrow, it is “self evident” that “all men are created equal,” and that they have “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The adjective “unalienable” has tripped up schoolchildren forever, but it is the core word of the United States of America. It means that these are rights that cannot be taken away. They are part of what it means to be human. Efforts to take them away or abuse them are acts of tyranny.
It is impossible to grasp just how radical an idea this was in 1776 — and how radical an idea it is now, in 2016. Indeed, it was so radical in 1776 that it could not be fully implemented, with African-Americans remaining enslaved for another 87 years and women remaining without the franchise until 1920.
And it remains so radical now that we continue to fight political battles daily over efforts by government to abridge our unalienable rights at home, while abroad billions still live without rudimentary versions of the freedoms we enjoy.
The central figure in the United States is you.
Perhaps the most important freedom we enjoy is to practice our faiths. Outside the US, Christians are facing near-systematic elimination in Muslim lands while in China, the world’s largest country, believers of all kinds (Tibetan Buddhists especially) “continue to face arrests, fines, denials of justice, lengthy prison sentences and, in some cases, the closing or bulldozing of places of worship,” according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Because the United States is made up of human beings, and human beings are flawed, it is a flawed country and always has been. But due to another flaw in human nature — our strange desire to concentrate on the negative and avoid counting our blessings — American politics, culture and our education system have come to dwell on the dark side as much today as they did in 1976.
The history we teach our kids is a history of injustices and infamies — without the corresponding understanding that to a degree unknown anywhere in the world, America is self-correcting.
Indeed, self-correction is woven into its DNA. That is why the Constitution itself allows the amending of the constitution — to fix the document’s flaws and extend the nation’s blessings (and obligations) to those denied them at the time of the founding.
The preamble to the US Constitution explains its purpose is to “secure these blessings for ourselves and our posterity.” Since the Constitution is not fixed in amber and can be amended, the act of securing these blessings for ourselves and those who follow us has remained an obligation for every American from that day forward to this.
It’s not just the Constitution. We self-correct every year, through elections at the local, state and national levels that give us the power to change the country’s direction when that direction leads us so terribly astray. In 1976, four months after the tall ships, the country sought to purify its corrupted politics by electing Jimmy Carter, a former Georgia governor untainted by Washington scandals who promised, “I will never lie to you” as president.
When Carter proved to be alternately hapless and feckless in addressing the country’s financial and international ailments, we changed direction again four years later by electing Ronald Reagan, who vowed to attempt radically different cures for our ailments. Within a decade, the US economy had exploded and the Berlin Wall had fallen.
Our freedoms reside within us. That is the message of America. They are a part of us. Indeed, according to the philosophy that created this country, they reside within every living person on Earth.
The luckiest people on Earth are the people who are born Americans, or who become Americans.
But exercising our freedoms — now, that’s a different story. We have the precious gift in this country of exercising them pretty much at will. And that means too many of us have come to take them for granted.
We do so in part because we are human, and we are flawed. But we are also seduced into thinking our birthright as Americans is not what it truly is — the most precious gift any group of people has ever enjoyed. We are told that unless we get this, or get that, or get the other thing, the country is failing us.
We are seduced in this way by political and cultural leaders who seek either to harness our anger or generate it to use as a weapon against their rivals.
The luckiest people on Earth are the people who are born Americans, or who become Americans.
That’s what we all instinctively understood, 40 years ago, when we saw the masts of those tall ships sail into the harbor as they passed by Lady Liberty — her lamp lifted, as it has been since she was placed there in 1886, beside the golden door.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports today that Governor McAuliffe will veto a portion of the 2015-2016 budget bill. The veto is aimed at a prohibition against expanding the states Medicaid program inserted in the budget bill prior to passage. When Governor Allen attempted a veto of language in a previous budget bill, Democrats won a court order stating the Governor had no authority to make such a veto, and the veto was ultravires. Members of the Republican majority in the House and Senate stated they will fight the veto in court if necessary.
In an email from Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) he noted:
Governor McAuliffe has no legal authority to “line-item veto” the condition added by the General Assembly to the Budget preventing the Governor from expanding Medicaid without General Assembly approval, but that’s exactly what he’s trying to do!
The Virginia Supreme Court defined “item” the 1940 case of Commonwealth vs. Dodson and agreed with the US Supreme Court that: “An item of an appropriation bill obviously means an item which in itself is a specific appropriation of money, not some general provision of law which happens to be put into an appropriation bill. …
Virginians should contact Governor McAuliffe about his attempt to act outside his constitutional authority.
The Virginia Peninsula and the Crimean peninsula have no direct connection. The potential threat to the liberty of the Ukranian people posed by the Russian Federation as evidenced by the invasion of the Crimean peninsua is however a threat to the liberty of Virginians. As such we stand with Ukraine. The inspiring entrance of a single Ukrainian athlete at the opening ceremonies of the para-Olympic games is a symbol Virginians can embrace.
Delegate Pogge (R-96). Delegate Pogge has prefiled three bills, including one to allow magistrates throughout the state to issue search warrants. In practice this could reduce the argument or excuse for warrantless searches. A second bill repeals the tax on hybrid vehicles imposed in the last session and a third seeks to protect agritourism activities from local bans.
Senator Norment (R-3) has entered bills to establish the General Assembly schedule .
Although the recount is complete and Mark Obenshain has conceded, a brief on the recount process is in order. First, kudos are owed to the electoral board and registrar and the officers of election who carried out the recount. They conducted this tedious and difficult task professionally and punctually. Second Mark Herring is due congratulations on his election as Virginia’s next Attorney-General.
The process of feeding paper ballots back through the reader is time consuming and uncomfortable. The development of some sort of ballot feeder would have mad this task much easier.
The process uncovered the ballots which were under votes. On examination most of these under votes were just that, blank ballots for this race. Only about 1 in five of the under voted ballots were actually marked. The mark sense machine only reads ballots where the ‘bubble’ to the left of the candidate’s name has been marked. These ballots were not read because they were marked in some other way. Either the party label (D) or (R) was filled in instead, or the candidates name was circled or underlined. I cannot explain the voter inattention which led to these marking errors, but they cost the state a considerable amount of money and time.
The recount for Attorney-General is now set for December 16 and 17. The recount will be conducted in each locality under the supervision of the local Board of Elections. The boards consist of three members, two Republicans and one Democrat. Observers from each party are also authorized for each recount team. In James City County four observers are authorized for each party. In localities where mark scan ballots can be recounted by machine, the method is to feed the ballots back through the counters, then hand review ballots kicked out for under or over votes. In other localities all of the ballots will require manual review and count. This could get interesting.
At a hearing regarding the recount the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the possibility of a contest following the recount was raised. A contest request would be a request to the General Assembly to decide the election. Even more interesting.