It's too early to call him Rob “Chad” Ludeman, but the unsuccessful contender in last Tuesday's county commission race is thinking of springing for a recount.
Recount. Uttered more times last week than it was throughout the entire last century.
The national circus in the Sunshine State casts a long, dark shadow, but Mr. Ludeman swears the idea didn't occur to him just because recount is one of the Top 10 words blaring from U.S. televisions.
“When we were watching returns on election night... , that was the first question I was asked by the media: Would I seek a recount? And long before we knew about Florida, I said, `Well, we'll consider it.'”
Besides, “to be honest, I haven't paid a lot of attention to the Florida situation. I've got my own career to worry about.”
Fully expecting to win, Mr. Ludeman says the night's unofficial tally - his 74,229 votes against County Commissioner Bill Copeland's 77,112 - took the candidate by surprise.
Yeah, something about that 49-to-51 per cent ratio has Mr. Ludeman and a handful of loyalists poring over tallies with an eye toward pinpointing some local equivalent of a “Jews for Buchanan” movement. Or, gosh, something.
“We haven't had any press conferences or anything. We've just been diligent in looking over the figures , looking for anything ... that might raise a red flag. We've got sheets and sheets of materials to go through,” says Mr. Ludeman, a Republican who still has a city council seat to console him.
And what sort of things might catch their piercing GOP gaze?
“I had more votes than George Bush in Lucas County, so I would look at precincts where Bush had an overwhelming number of votes more than me. Or where the vote counts were maybe mistakenly transposed, let's say a precinct where I should have won 65-35, and the vote turned out the opposite. A couple of precincts like that could change the whole thing.”
Already, he says, he's learned of three precincts where the totals were as hard to make out as any off-the-cuff quote from our English-abusing mayor.
“It was a problem with the tally sheet from the back of the machine. The ink smeared, and no way could you read those numbers. Now, the votes are still in the machine, but not the tally sheet.”
Which, um, happens all the time. The presidential race has determined precious little, but it has highlighted this much: America's voting screw-ups - misplaced ballot boxes, “hanging chads,” transposed numbers - are common enough to compete with baseball for designation as the national pastime. Even the director of Lucas County's election board, who prides herself on thoroughness, concedes breezily that errors aren't uncommon.
“Not at all,” says Toni Szuch. Blurry, hard-to-read results “happen e-v-e-r-y election. But I understand. If I were in his shoes, I'd be, you know, hoping, too.”
Ms. Szuch and her minions begin Saturday to certify local votes by recounting the whole schmear. They have until Dec. 7 to report to the state. Mr. Ludeman says he won't make his recount-request decision until he sees those numbers.
Mr. Copeland, meanwhile, just issues a shrug of incumbency.
“I don't have anything to say. What he wants to do is entirely up to him.”
Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,
and Saturdays. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-419-724-6086.