By Ivan Raconteur
WRIGHT AND McLEOD COUNTIES, MN The Wright County portion of the gubernatorial recount went “much better than expected,” according to Wright County Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala.
A total of 19 election officials, including members of Hiivala’s staff and election judges, worked from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. last Monday, and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday hand-counting the ballots.
As a result of the recount, Mark Dayton gained two votes, and Tom Emmer lost one vote, according to Hiivala.
In Wright County, Dayton had 14,086 votes before the recount, and 14,088 votes after the recount.
Emmer had 27,136 before the recount, and 27,135 after the recount.
These results do not include the City of Rockford. Rockford was handled separately, because “about 50” Wright County ballots from the city, which is shared between Wright and Hennepin counties, were sent to Hennepin County by mistake, and had not been returned to Wright County in time for the recount, according to Hiivala.
A total of 11 official challenges, one from Dayton and 10 from Emmer, were sent to the state canvassing board.
Hiivala credits Wright County voters, in part, for the smooth recount process.
He explained that there were “not a lot of extraneous marks” on the ballots, which made the process easier.
McLeod County experienced similar results, according to McLeod County Auditor/Treasurer Cindy Schultz.
Emmer gained one vote after the recount, and Dayton gained four.
Emmer’s total increased from 7,365 to 7,366, and Dayton’s total increased from 3,967 to 3,971.
There were a total of eight challenges in the county, including three by Dayton and five by Emmer.
Schultz said all precincts checked out with the correct number of ballots, except for Hutchinson City Precinct 1, which had one more ballot than was reported to the county Nov. 2.
The votes that each candidate picked up were due to mistakes by voters, according to Schultz.
For example, if a voter colored an oval for one candidate, and then changed his mind and placed an X over the first candidate oval, and then colored the oval for a different candidate for the same office, the ballot counter would recognize this as an “over vote,” and neither candidate would receive a vote.
During the recount process, election officials determine voter intent and record the vote for the candidate the voter intended.
Schultz said over votes can be eliminated if voters request a second ballot from an election judge if they make a mistake on their original ballot.
In a case like this, the first ballot would be placed in a “spoiled ballot” envelope, and would not be counted.