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The Right Note: Recount

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Mark KellyThis week I had the opportunity to act as an observer for state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26) in the Virginia Attorney General recount. While the Virginia-wide recount did not produce the result Republicans hoped for, Arlingtonians can be proud of the way in which the recount proceeded at the courthouse on Tuesday.

With security provided by Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputies, Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson oversaw the recount. Ferguson swore in two of the Electoral Board members as Recount Coordinators and ten Officers of Election at 7:00 a.m. to conduct it. Registrar Linda Lindberg and her staff provided guidance to all of the officials as they opened the sealed envelopes containing Nov. 5’s results.

Each campaign named five observers to watch the counting process. All in all, 22 people — 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans — officially conducted and observed the ballot counting. The process was orderly, collegial, and most importantly, accurate.

At the end of the day, there were just two additional votes counted, with one challenged vote produced for review. The additional votes were a result of paper absentee ballots where votes for Attorney General were not read by the optical scan machine during the original counting process. That’s three votes in a race where 66,805 had initially been certified in Arlington.

The Electoral Board and Registrar’s office deserve credit for their commitment to getting it right the first time. And, they deserve credit for the organization and professionalism in conducting the recount.

One of the Democrats observing the process on Tuesday noted that Mark Obenshain was a well-respected member of the Virginia Senate. I could not agree more. Sen. Obenshain’s record in the Senate and his professional experience made him well-qualified to serve as Attorney General. Also, after getting to know him and his family, I came to trust his character as well.

Sen. Obenshain’s character was evident again yesterday. When it became increasingly clear the recount would not change the result in his favor, Obenshain called his fellow Senate colleague, and now Attorney General-elect, Mark Herring to concede. Obenshain ended the process despite having the right to let it play out.

Running for office is no walk in the park. When you decide to run, you know you are making real sacrifices for yourself and your family — and those sacrifices ratchet up substantially when you are running for statewide office. Even with this in mind, I hope Sen. Obenshain continues to serve Virginians in the Senate, and that he will run for higher office again in the future.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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