Mower County part of District 27A recount

Published 8:07 am Friday, November 5, 2010

By Sarah Stultz

Staff writer

The canvassing boards in both Freeborn and Mower counties will meet today in what will be the next step in the determination of the potential House District 27A recount.

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While the canvassing includes the results from all races voted on within each county, it will also allow Freeborn and Mower county election officials to begin proofing the unofficial District 27A results submitted to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office following the election. The canvassing boards meet at 9:30 a.m. in the courthouses of the respective counties.

According to unofficial election results Tuesday night, there are just 58 votes between DFL District 27A Rep. Robin Brown and Republican challenger Rich Murray in the race, with Murray being the unofficial winner.

Patricia K. Turgeon, assistant director of communications with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, said after the county canvassing boards meet, the results will then be certified by the state Canvassing Board — it is a state-level race and covers more than one county — during a meeting Nov. 23.

At that point it will be determined whether an automatic recount is triggered. Minnesota law states an automatic recount is triggered when there is a margin of victory of less than 0.5 percent. In this case, there was a margin of victory of less than 0.4 percent in the unofficial results.

Turgeon said if there is a recount in the governor’s race, between DFLer Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer, both the state House and governor hand recounts would be done together at the local level.

Though the Secretary of State’s Office is officially in charge of the recount, it would be conducted through county officials and other trained volunteers.

Ballots would first be counted in the state House race, and any challenged ballots would be flagged. Then, the ballots will be counted for the governor’s race, and challenged ballots in that case would be flagged, Turgeon noted.

Any challenged ballots in either race will be forwarded to the state Canvassing Board to determine the results.

The state Canvassing Board comprises two Minnesota Supreme Court justices, two district court judges (presently, one is from Minneapolis; the other St. Paul) and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

The state Canvassing Board will review challenges and certify the results in the state House races first. Then they will certify results in the governor’s race, Turgeon said.

Mower County Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh said despite the looming recounts, his office continues to conduct other necessary election activity, including entering Election Day registrants into the system, recording voter history and producing abstracts for townships, cities and school districts.

“It’s a big process, and it’s getting to be bigger,” Groh said. “With the division of the population, there’s no clear majority. That polarization or division is causing multiple recounts.”

He said it brings him back to the race against U.S. Senate candidates Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

“That was a nightmare,” he said. “It pushes us back in the work we need to get done,” Groh said. “That was a lengthy process.”

In the meantime, a member of the Murray campaign continues to sit outside the rooms where the ballots are being stored in both Freeborn and Mower counties.

Groh said in Austin the watchdogs are recording the people who enter and leave the vault, where the ballots are stored.