Today’s UpTake: Frivolous Challenges Mount in Hennepin County

Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith Talks About Recount

On the third day of the recount my true love gave to me, frivolous challenges in Hennepin County.

As the Minnesota gubernatorial election recount enters its third day, most counties statewide have completed, or are on the verge of completing, their recount duties. All eyes now fall on the more populous Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, where The UpTake is providing a livestream of events all week. Ramsey County (home to St. Paul) has been a model of neighborly tolerance worthy of Lake Wobegon. Only 55 ballots were contested on Monday, and slightly more than that yesterday.

But over in Hennepin County (home to Minneapolis), the ballot challenges are snowballing, and many of those are “frivolous challenges”. Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith says that the nearly 1,000 “frivolous” challenges made by Republican Tom Emmer’s campaign have been “a bit unnecessary”, and perhaps evoke comparisons to the mountain of “frivolous challenges” made in 2008 by the Norm Coleman campaign. Smith added yesterday afternoon that she overheard Republican recount leaders urging their workers to intentionally challenge more ballots. And now GOP state chair Tony Sutton is hinting at the possibility of a post-recount lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Mark Dayton’s recount director Ken Martin said at an afternoon press conference at the State Capitol that Dayton’s lead over Emmer had increased by 205 votes as of 1:30 p.m. Dayton was en route to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with the Democrat Governors’ Association — presumably to be addressed in the nation’s capital as “Governor-elect Mark Dayton”. Also in Washington today, President Obama met with Republican lawmakers and said at a news conference afterward that there was “broad agreement” that the middle class tax increases scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1 need to be stopped. However, he noted there were “differences on how to get there.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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