Well, the chaotic mess of Michigan’s off-again, on-again recount battle is apparently finally over.
The reason I say “apparently” is that absolutely nothing has been certain this year, and it is still possible, though unlikely, that more courts could intervene.
Essentially, everyone connected with this looks like the gang who couldn’t shoot straight, right down to Mark Goldsmith, who appeared to be a flip-flopping federal judge. The Republicans look worst of all, however.
Based on what I know about Michigan elections, there is virtually no reason to think a full recount could or would have overturned Donald Trump’s almost 11,000 vote lead.
No reason, except one:
The near-panic with which Republicans were determined to stop the recount. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette essentially abandoned any pretense at being a non-partisan lawyer for all our citizens, and functioned as chief prosecutor for the Republican Party.
What’s most amazing is that we now know that a full recount would have been a good thing, because even the barely started one revealed a problem of which we were unaware: serious discrepancies in Detroit.
According to the Detroit News, which was monitoring the recount, more than half of the 662 precincts in the city could be unaccountable because the number of votes cast didn’t match the number of voters recorded.
Actually, there’s no reason I can see that these ballots couldn’t be recounted; it’s just that there may be serious questions about the integrity of those precincts. We are talking about areas that voted more than 90% for Hillary Clinton.
It is entirely possible, perhaps likely, that a recount would have disqualified some of these ballots, which would have increased the Republican margin in the state.
In any event, it would have been healthy to let the recount proceed, if only to expose the full extent of this and perhaps other problems. In a display of amusing hypocrisy, many of the same Republicans who said everything was fine and no recount was needed are now clamoring for a formal investigation into the Detroit discrepancies.
Well, great. But wouldn’t finishing the recount so we had a firmer grasp on the scope of the problem have been a good place to start?
State Senator Pat Colbeck, R-Canton, actually managed to both blast the recount and say that because of the mess in Detroit that it “may result in something beneficial.”
So much for consistency.
Republicans are consistent about one thing, however. They want to do anything to prevent people who aren’t apt to support them from voting.
Yesterday, they rammed a bill through the House to make it essentially impossible to vote without photo ID.
Currently, people who show up without it can cast a ballot if they sign an affidavit affirming they are who they say are. But under the bill just passed, their ballots wouldn’t count unless they show up at the county clerk’s office within 10 days and show photo ID or humiliating proof that they are too poor to obtain it.
Talk about intimidation. Yes, I’m sure poor folks without transportation are going to do that. There’s no real problem with voter fraud in this state, and everyone knows it.
This is one more blow against democracy, and we should at least call it what it is.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.