Reporting Election Judge’s Call May Reduce Recount Challenges

Recounting ballots in 2008

Mark Dayton’s recount team wants to avoid a repeat of the 2008 recount ballot challenge war.

During the 2008 recount of the Norm Coleman and Al Franken US Senate race, the two sides engaged in a ballot challenge war. Republican Coleman’s team challenged thousands of ballots for Al Franken, which depressed Franken’s vote total — giving the impression he was far behind. The DFL Franken team responded by also challenging hundreds of ballots. Most of the challenges proved to be frivolous.

The Franken recount team based its internal count on how the election judge at the recount table originally “called” the vote. That tally allowed Franken Attorney Marc Elias to predict the outcome of the recount with a margin of error of less than 50 votes out of 2.9 Million cast.

It became obvious during the 2008 recount that the Coleman team was initially using challenges to rally public support (and funding) for its candidate by making it appear he was leading.

In 2010, Dayton’s recount team doesn’t want to play that game and is asking Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to help put a stop to it by reporting the totals from the election judge’s “call at the table.”

Changes made after the 2008 recount already make it harder to challenge a ballot. No longer can a ballot be challenged for stray pen marks, which was the reasoning behind many of the challenges.

A letter from Dayton recount attorney Charlie Nauen sent to Secretary of State Ritchie on Monday says that “granting our request will result in no additional burden because the information necessary to report the ‘call at the table’ will be collected pursuant to current draft Procedure No. 11, which requires that the reasons for the challenges, including the initial call at the table be recorded on the challenged ballot.”

The Dayton letter requests that the matter be discussed when the canvassing board meets today at 10am to review the totals from all of Minnesota’s elections, including the Governor’s race where Mark Dayton still leads by 8,755 votes.

Dayton Campaign Letter To Secretary of State

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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