Shared from the 11/23/2019 Washington Daily News eEdition

MY TURN:

Being thankful: Elections

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ROLAND WYMAN

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You may have heard or read about a recent election that was decided by “The Luck of the Draw.”

Well, here’s a first-hand account of what happened and why I believe the headline may have “buried the lede”— in other words, what was really the main story, and what I think we can all be thankful for.

Shortly after the polls closed on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 5, the “unofficial” vote counts were released. These are “unofficial” or preliminary, because our county election staff reported these results, but our county Board of Elections had not reviewed it by that time.

Of course, four candidates had won their seats decisively, while two of us were in fifth and sixth place, with only two votes separating us. There are five people on the Washington City Council so, only one of us would be declared the fifth council member.

Fast forward to Friday, Nov. 15, when our county Board of Elections met to review the election process and determine an outcome.

Beginning at 11 a.m., this, is where the magic happened. This is where I was able to witness a fair, open and accurate election process; a process that protected the value of every vote that was cast.

This process was in the hands of our Board of Elections, which is made up of five Beaufort County residents who have the responsibility of looking out for all of us who vote. I’ll tell you right now that they took that responsibility seriously. Over the course of six hours, they demonstrated that they were determined to account for each vote that was cast in this election. They would not settle for “Well, that must be right,” or “That should be close enough.” They had to see for themselves.

Stacks and stacks of ballots that had been sealed after the polls closed election night were unsealed, reviewed one at a time, then stacked and resealed. It was organized so that both candidates could see every ballot as it was inspected.

Fair – Open – Accurate

Despite the tension I experienced during this process, I found myself marveling at the gift we all enjoy with each election. This Thanksgiving, I’ll be reminded of a few countries I’ve lived in where the citizens didn’t have the right to determine who represents them. Some, where the citizens didn’t even have representation at all.

I also compared our community to some U.S. communities I’ve lived in where elections were a sham. The citizens thought they were selecting the people who would represent them, but the reality was that an unelected powerful few were selecting the candidates and the outcomes. Yes, this happens right here in our own country.

Knowing that I am living in a city and county that has nurtured a healthy democratic process, where we fiercely protect the value of each and every vote, is a source of pride and makes me redouble my commitment to continue to serve our community wherever possible.

How do you feel, Washington voters, to know that about a dozen people, comprised of staff and election board members, worked so hard to find and count your vote? As a voter myself, I am thankful to live in such a community.

Going forward and despite this turn of events, I’ll continue working to improve our community where I can. This will include our project to build a new roof for the Turnage Theatre to keep those great programs going.

Our Washington (noon) Rotary Club will be busy supporting worthy nonprofit organizations also.

Be sure to check back for my next column, as I plan to provide an update on an initiative that is targeted toward retaining our younger residents by creating greater opportunities right in our community.

Roland Wyman is a retired businessman and marketing consultant. He currently chairs Arts of the Pamlico/Turnage Theatre, is president of Washington (noon) Rotary, and is on the board of Washington Harbor District Alliance. He can be reached at roland@rolandwyman.com or by calling 252-512-2215.

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