Senate recount to begin here Monday

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mower County’s role in Minnesota election history begins at 8:15 a.m. Monday, Nov. 24 in the Mower County Board of Commissioners’ meeting room.

That’s when the recount begins in the Senator Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken U.S. Senate race.

DFL challenger Franken out-polled the incumbent Republican 9,090 to 6,839 in Mower County on Nov. 4.

Email newsletter signup

However, Coleman holds a slim 206 vote lead over Franken in statewide balloting.

The narrow margin necessitated a statewide recount.

That’s almost 2.9 million ballots to recount statewide and nearly 16,000 locally.

Mower County Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh will be in charge of the county’s recount.

According to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the first county-by-county recounts in the Coleman-Franken race can begin Wednesday.

“We will have four election teams of three members each participating in the recount,” Groh said. “Plus myself and staff for probably 14 or 15 people in all involved.”

Among the volunteers participating in the historic U.S. Senate race recount will be Sheldon Sayles from Windom Township, Paul Main from Bennington Township and Ila Johnson from Grand Meadow Township, Groh said, and Dawn Mueller and Kathy Grant from the Auditor-Treasurer’s staff and LaVonne Griffin from the Minnesota League of Women Voters’ Austin chapter.

Part of the recount process is that both the Coleman and Franken campaigns are notified of each county’s scheduled recount in order to allow them to have their own observers watching the recount.

The recount will take place in the county commissioners’ meeting room; the largest room of its kind in the government center.

The recount will be open to the public, including media representatives.

If the recounters do not finish Nov. 24, the ballots will be returned to a vault where they have been stored and taken count for a second day of recounting Monday, Dec. 1.

The recounters — all volunteers being paid $9.25 per hour for their work — recount 19.302 ballots tallied on Nov. 4.

The recounting process is simple: Sort the ballots for Coleman and Franken, verify the individual voter’s intentions and then count them.

No other ballots for any other candidate receiving votes Nov. 4 will be counted, according to Groh.

The Auditor-Treasurer recruited possible recounters from the ranks of the election judges. Others volunteer.

Lucy Johnson, Austin city clerk and recorder, will have her own election judges participating.

Both city of Austin and Mower County vote totals were canvassed shortly after the Election Day results were tabulated.

Every voting precinct in Mower County has electronic voting machines with optical scan counter. Even absentee votes are placed into the optical scan machine and counted electronically.

If there are votes to be challenged, they will be set aside for attention by the state canvassing board, according to Groh.

“The city of Austin recount for mayor was a pretty quick process,” Groh said. “This will be a slower process.

“Depending upon the parties representing Franken and Coleman and whether or not they ask for a second recount, the fact that the city of Austin ballots are all in the right orientation, because they went through a recount already, that should expedite the entire process for everyone,” Groh said.

Otherwise, the recount will take place one voting percent at a time until all 39 are tallied.

The recounters will be trained for their important duties Nov. 24.

The recount will be conducted statewide beginning Wednesday at 101 locations throughout the state; generally every county government center/courthouse and city hall.

In addition to the U.S. Senate race recount, three other recounts will take place in Minnesota: State Senate District 16 and State House Districts 12B and 16A.