The ballots, it turned out, were still being transported and unloaded in a garage behind the building. A cleaning woman on swing shift, who happened to be passing by, told my father about the tremendous activity in the garage. My dad walked over to the area where the cleaning lady had been and began poking around, inspecting trucks and ballot boxes. He soon noticed several stacks of sealed boxes and realized that the boxes contained ballots from several of the largest black precincts in the city. My dad was unsure of the status of the ballots. Meaning, he couldn't verify if they had been counted yet and were a part of the final tally. He was suspicious because the boxes containing the ballots were sealed. After a few minutes of not being able to get a credible answer from anyone in the garage about the ballots, my dad was convinced—the Memphis political power structure was trying to steal the election from him.
"We've done the math ourselves very carefully," he said, "based on official tallies from the precincts, and here we are being told that we've lost and can't get a recount—yet we've got sealed boxes of ballots sitting here at the Elections Commission. We're not going home until those ballots are counted," my dad told the press.
It wasn't long before the election commissioners appeared and publicly conceded that my father had won. They declared him the victor before they had even counted all the ballots in question.
Kuykendall was on a local TV news show declaring his victory when he was passed a note saying that in fact my dad had won the race. He walked off the air without a word. He never bothered to congratulate his opponent.
The commissioners were never held accountable for attempting to steal the race. No one was indicted and no one was reprimanded for any infraction or violation. They claimed that they had simply overlooked a few boxes of ballots. No serious mistakes, they said, had been made.
In the end, my dad won by a margin of 532 votes. Frank and Osbie had been off by 32 votes.
Excerpted from MORE DAVIDS THAN GOLIATHS Copyright (c) 2010 by Harold Ford, Jr. Published by Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.