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Pre-recount: Mountain Iron is no Palm Beach County

Just got off the phone with Paul Tynjala, director of elections in Saint Louis County, in which the suddenly infamous burgh of Mountain Iron sits.

Today, the Colemanistas are implying 100 new Franken votes that showed up on the Secretary of State’s website last night is evidence of fraud. As noted earlier, Mountain Iron’s deputy registrar says the current, updated SoS totals match hers from Election Night.

So why were 100 votes initally missing? A lousy game of telephone, Tynjala explains.

Like all Minnesota counties, Saint Louis County actually transmits the info to the Secretary of State. But the county is a huge one — 7,000 square miles — so local officials aren’t required to drop off their voting machine tape on Election Night.

Instead, they call in their numbers. Tynjala says someone wrote down “406” instead of “506” for Franken; he’s not sure who made the mistake.

The next day, when Mountain Iron’s tape finally came in, it showed 506 votes. That’s the figure that eventually made its way to the state website.

But couldn’t someone have added 100 votes to the machine (and thus the tape) after the “real” 406 number was called in?

Nope, Tynjala replied.

The handwritten Election Night sheet also contained a total Mountain Iron called in. If you added up each candidate’s vote — which no one did on a late, busy evening — it would be 100 votes short of the reported total.

But when the tape came in showing 506, that total reconciled. (Surely, the handwritten document will be entered into evidence at the inevitable court proceeding.)

Bottom line: the Coleman folks have to keep looking for Minnesota’s version of Palm Beach County.

[Update: According to the Strib, the Coleman camp also cites issues with the Mountain Iron machine’s timestamp, which was off by two days, as it was in a pre-election test.]

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by David Koski on 11/07/2008 - 05:47 pm.

    When it comes to Coleman, the one who first accuses is the one who is most likely perpetrating, IMHO.

  2. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 11/08/2008 - 09:45 am.

    Given the measures taken to promote accuracy, with duplicate personnel involved at every step, a 100 vote error simply does not pass the smell test.

    I think we all need to check our biases so as not to accept answers at first blush without digging further.

    If you want a better discussion of voting mechanics, you can check Powerline.

  3. Submitted by David Brauer on 11/08/2008 - 12:38 pm.

    JB – I’m following Powerline, but they would be slightly more convincing if they actually did a little reporting – say, talk to Mountain Iron and Saint Louis County – instead of weaving stories from anonymous GOP election judges who were nowhere near the Mountain Iron matter.

    On Friday, John Hinderaker wrote of the 100 new votes, “Maybe there is some legitimate explanation for these events, but I haven’t thought of one yet.”

    I guess Powerline is limited by the power of John’s imagination, but above is the explanation provided by the actual principals.

    Nevertheless, Powerline now declares, “The election seems to be in the process of being stolen,” based on some inferences from anonymous election judges not in Mountain Iron.

    Given the “shoot first, ask questions never ethos,” I expect their vetting will be less than thorough and “better” only from a partisan perspective.

    That said, we’ll keep asking questions on this end and talking to principals. It’s perfectly fine to press us to do that, but not with tendentious half-truths.

  4. Submitted by Phillip Hallam-Baker on 11/08/2008 - 02:10 pm.

    Election night tallies are error prone.

    Coleman is claiming that he would not be asking for a recount. Does he think people are stupid? Why does he tell such an obvious lie?

    There is absolutely no point in complaining about a mandatory recount. Even if Coleman could somehow prevent the recount and get himself appointed, or as happened in the previous Minn Senate recount, lose the recount and get appointed anyway, the Senate is the final arbiter here.

  5. Submitted by David Koski on 11/08/2008 - 02:51 pm.

    All my personal biases aside, Brauer is the point man in all this. He has demonstrated true journalistic integrity. He has the contacts and the experience. I recommend that people do not count on Powerline, the Northern Alliance Network or anything related to 100.3 TLK FM or 1280 the Patriot, as being properly researched or sourced. In fact, I usually think the opposite of what ever I hear from that side as being more likely.

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