Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Feb. 7, 2023

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In Our View: Kent must commit to accepting recount results

The Columbian
Published:

The question is not whether Republican Joe Kent should demand a recount of votes in the 3rd Congressional District. The question is whether Kent and his supporters will accept the results if they don’t go his way.

The Nov. 8 election was certified Tuesday, confirming a slim victory for Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez. The seven counties that comprise the 3rd District added up to 160,314 votes for Perez and 157,685 for Kent. Perez received 50.14 percent while Kent had 49.31 percent; there also were a handful of write-in votes.

Under state law, an automatic recount is triggered if the final margin is less than one-half of 1 percent and is within 2,000 votes. If the margin is wider, candidates may pay for a recount.

“We will be filing for an official recount in the next 24-48 hours to fight for our voters (and) for every legal vote to be counted,” Kent wrote Tuesday on various platforms. “The fight continues!”

Indeed, all legal votes should be counted; we are confident they have been. Election officials throughout the region have a history of demonstrated diligence and integrity that should build confidence that results are accurate. In the past two years, lawsuits challenging election results or alleging fraud have been rejected by the courts for a lack of evidence.

Should a recount confirm a victory for Perez, confidence in the results will be the overriding issue in determining how our region moves forward. Kent can play a role in bolstering that confidence.

Throughout the campaign, the candidate repeated Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election being “stolen.” Those assertions have been rebuffed by facts, evidence and logic.

Following this year’s election, on the podcast of Steve Bannon — who has been convicted of contempt of Congress and sentenced to four months in jail — Kent has expressed suspicion about the election results and said something was “afoot” in the process. He has complained that ballot counts were too slow and that he received “a bunch of non-answers” from election officials.

But he also has said, “I will accept the eventual outcome of this election as determined by the Secretary of State, and my campaign will continue to work to ensure that the final count is as accurate as possible.”

Kent should maintain that decorum. Falsehoods about election fraud have diminished our democracy, with the nadir being an attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Falsehoods also have been self-defeating for Republicans. National analysts have said an inordinate number of conservative voters sat out this year’s election because “they don’t trust the system.” There is little wonder about where they got that idea.

One positive byproduct of election scrutiny has been an improved understanding of the system. In Clark County, election officials have demonstrated transparency and clarity in improving public understanding of how ballots are processed and counted.

And if there are legitimate concerns, County Auditor Greg Kimsey has stressed: “Anyone who has evidence of fraud should contact law enforcement, the attorney general’s office, the state auditor’s office, the secretary of state’s office, the sheriff or the county auditor.” That is preferable to spreading unfounded allegations that are bereft of evidence.

Following a recount of more than 300,000 ballots in the 3rd District, we trust that Kent will act honorably and accept the results. For our district, and for the nation, it is time to move beyond the lie-fueled discord of the past two years.

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