Today’s UpTake: Frivolous Ballots Mount, Canvassing Board Meets

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Recount week is just about over, but Hennepin County isn’t out of the woods yet. Minnesota’s most populous county, and home to Minneapolis, still has over 100,000 ballots to count, and this appears to be where Tom Emmer’s team, led by attorney Tony Trimble, are making their stand. Yesterday Trimble gleefully stated that he ultimately expects to see nearly 9,000 votes for Mark Dayton successfully challenged — in other words, enough to overcome the Democrat’s lead IF EACH ONE OF THOSE is thrown out. That’s not likely, given the frivolity of many of the Emmer team’s challenges, which The UpTake has shown during our live coverage this week.

The Minnesota State Canvassing Board will have to decide how to deal with this mess — reminiscent of Norm’s Coleman’s thousands of ballot challenges two years ago —  that the Board sought to avoid by holding discussions last week with attorneys, in particular, former Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson, who represents Emmer. The State Canvassing Board will meet at 2 p.m. today in the State Office Building to discuss frivolous ballot challenges and attempt to head off a potential post-recount lawsuit from the Emmer side. Naturally, The UpTake will be there to cover it live.

The cool head in the room yesterday was Mark Dayton, who returned from Washington, D.C., where he met with the Democratic Governors Association (and asked to be called “Mark” and not “governor-elect”). Dayton refused to be presumptuous and said he’d wait for an election certificate from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie before moving into the governor’s mansion. The Dayton team also withdrew its relatively few frivolous battle challenges, and called on Emmer to do the same.

In the midst of the election recount fracas, the state’s November Economic Forecast was released yesterday, and the numbers weren’t pretty. DFL leaders Tom Bakk and Paul Thissen, and GOP leaders Amy Koch and Kurt Zellers, offered their reactions, and then Governor Tim Pawlenty attempted to cast the state’s ugly deficit in a rosy picture, all while throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Democrats.

Speaking of partisanship, one of the most recent victims of America’s political wars, outgoing Congressman Jim Oberstar, held his final hearing in Washington as chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

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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