Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
As recount winds down, so does Emmer’s chances to become governor
Dec. 6, 2010

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

DELANO, MN – The recount to determine who will be Minnesota’s next governor began at locations around the state Nov. 29 and the deadline for deputy recount officials to finish sorting the ballots is Tuesday, Dec. 7.

By Friday morning, 97 percent of precincts had reported recount numbers, with no significant shift with Mark Dayton at 43.39 percent of the vote (859,678) and Delano’s Tom Emmer at 42.87 percent of the vote (849,382).

State canvassing board meetings will take place Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 9 at 9 a.m., and Friday, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m.

At these meetings, the determination of challenged ballots in the gubernatorial recount will take place.

At the state canvassing board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14, the certification of the gubernatorial election is expected to occur.

A Twitter post on the Emmer campaign website last Monday stated, “The legally required recount begins today. We look forward to a quick, transparent process over the next few days.”

Attempts to contact Emmer for further comment last week were unsuccessful. A message on his campaign website thanked supporters.

“Should we prevail, I look forward to the privilege of serving all Minnesotans as we move our great state in a positive direction,” Emmer said on his website.

The recount process

The recount itself is a process in which election officials review by hand each ballot that was cast on Election Day to determine precisely the vote count between two candidates whose vote margin is extremely close, according to Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

On Election Night, most Minnesotans placed their ballots in optical-scan machines that electronically tally the votes at the end of the night.

While these machines are very accurate and are periodically audited to ensure that accuracy, a recount ensures that all ballots are viewed by hand to determine each voter’s candidate choices.

A small percentage of voters – usually about 1 in every 2,000 or 3,000 (approximately 1,000 out of 2 million voters) mark their ballot in a way that cannot be read by the machine.

For example, the voter circles a candidate name or makes a marking outside of the bubble. A recount ensures that these votes are also properly tallied.

The recount process is determined and detailed by Minnesota law.

The first step in a recount process is to assemble all eligible ballots. The ballots are counted precinct-by-precinct within the county in which they were cast.

A recount official, generally the county auditor, is designated for each county and is in charge of the room in which the recount is occurring.

Ballots are then separated into piles — one for each candidate involved in the recount, and one for all other ballots, including those cast for other candidates, those for which the voter’s intent cannot be determined, and/or those declared ineligible due to markings or other problems.

All ballots within a precinct are sorted at the same time and are examined by an election official to determine the voter’s intent, in accordance with Minnesota statutes.

Each candidate is allowed to have a representative observe the election officials sorting, and a candidate’s representative may challenge the decision of the election official.

If there is an objection to the decision being made by the election official by either one or both of the candidates’ representatives, the ballot in dispute becomes “challenged.”

The recount official may decide whether or not the challenge is valid. If it is decided the challenge is valid, and if the challenge is not withdrawn, the ballot is marked as challenged and sent to the state canvassing board for review and decision.

Once ballots have been sorted into these piles, they are counted by election officials in stacks of 25 and the precinct’s vote count for each candidate is announced.

Deputy recount officials enter the results into the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s election reporting system.

These results, which will need to be double-checked by recount officials to ensure the accuracy of reporting, remain unofficial until certified by the State Canvassing Board.

Deputy recount officials enter the results into the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s election reporting system.

These results, which will need to be double-checked by recount officials to ensure the accuracy of reporting, remain unofficial until certified by the State Canvassing Board.

Representatives of the Dayton and Emmer campaigns have been observing the recount process and challenging recount officials’ ballot determinations.

However, state law only allows a challenge when the intent of the voter is not clear or the voter has identified their ballot with their signature, printed name, or identification number.

Deputy recount officials will send challenged ballots to the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State to be examined by the State Canvassing Board when it reconvenes Dec. 8, 9, and 10.

When is a recount required?

If the margin between the two top candidates falls within one-half of one percent, an automatic hand recount is required by state law.

In the instance that an automatic hand count is required, the taxpayers pay for the recount.

If the vote margin is greater than the one-half of one percent, a candidate can still request a full or partial recount but it is at his or her own expense.

The candidate who trails the vote leader had the option of waiving the automatic recount. The waiver must have been submitted in writing to the canvassing board.

Emmer campaign petition to ensure reconciliation denied by Supreme Court

Prior to the recount beginning, Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton and Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb filed a petition Nov. 17 with the Minnesota Supreme Court asking the court to ensure that reconciliation has occurred in each of Minnesota’s 4,136 precincts as required by Minnesota law.

The petition included affidavits from election judges throughout Minnesota who prepared or observed preparation of summary statements for their precinct and did not witness election judges count the names of individuals signing the polling roster or the names of individuals who registered to vote on Election Day.

The reconciliation petition was heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court Nov. 22. After the hearing, a statement was issued by the Republican Party of Minnesota.

“We appreciate the Minnesota Supreme Court expediting this important matter,” said Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton. “While we strongly disagree with the court’s ruling, we look forward to getting the legislatively mandated recount underway starting Monday. We will continue to work to ensure that Minnesota election law is followed, that the most basic right of our election system of one person, one vote is upheld. It is critical that our election laws are followed so that Minnesotans have confidence in the ultimate outcome of this election.”

The Emmer campaign and Republican party had also requested revisions to the proposed recount plan and administrative recount procedures for the general election.

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