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Restrain recount madness: Looming recounts in Minnesota elections are best left to the pros

The following is an editorial from the Minnesota Daily, by the Daily Editorial Board.

The following is an editorial from the Minnesota Daily, by the Daily Editorial Board.

Even before ballots were submitted to the Office of the Secretary of State for official tallies, the word “recount” was plastered all over Minnesota’s election news. To their credit, neither candidate in the too-close-to-call gubernatorial race has yet declared victory, despite Mark Dayton’s 9,057-vote lead in the unofficial tally. If that tight margin holds, it’s just barely enough to trigger an automatic recount under state law.

Of course, this election falls in the shadow of the lengthy, costly 2008 Senate recount between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. If 2008 was any indication, the candidates, political parties and lawyers will be relentless in pursuit of a victory.

Yet there is a difference between healthy, productive scrutiny of the public process and crying foul in order to bias public perception — a process that tainted the 2008 recount and has already regrettably begun in this one. In a press conference, State GOP Chairman Tony Sutton already speculated that “Something doesn’t smell right.” This kind of partisan noise is not only unnecessary here, but is actively harmful to our public institutions and discourse.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and his office performed superlatively in 2008 and can be trusted to do so again. Even so, they learned from that experience and have since implemented reforms to “reduce frivolous challenges” and generally strengthen the integrity and efficiency of the process.

Inevitably, there will be discrepancies between unofficial tallies and certified results. There will also likely be errors uncovered, but mistakes don’t equal fraud. Rather, these revelations are signs of a working system — one designed to be slow and exhaustive.

In this year’s recount process, let’s exercise patience and assume that Minnesota’s electoral system, which is frequently lauded as one of the best in the nation, is innocent until proven guilty.

Editorial reprinted with permission.