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Former Sen. Durenberger weighs in on Coleman-Franken recount

This whole recount thing just started to bother former U.S. Sen.

This whole recount thing just started to bother former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger.

So he joined with a gaggle of other current and former public officials of all political stripes this morning to outline a short list of “principles for transparency” as the Coleman-Franken recount gets ready to blast off Wednesday.

First, the former Republican lawmaker touched base with retired state court judge Joe Quinn, who had experience with recounts. Then he linked up with the likes of Independence Party activist Jack Uldrich and former Hennepin County Commissioner John Derus.

The question: “How can we assure Minnesotans that all their votes are going to count and they won’t be denied their value?”

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Among the simple principles:

• At each precinct’s recount, all the ballot boxes should be opened simultaneously, so no votes somehow mysteriously arrive later.

• Officials should make sure the recount occurs at convenient times for the media and the public.

• They also should make sure all vote counting is performed in full view and on a table low enough so every vote can be photographed.

The recount has revived some longstanding Durenberger opinions.

“I happen to believe that the election process should be made easier, not harder,” Durenberger told MinnPost after the news conference. “In that respect, I differ from the Republicans. Republicans believe it should be as hard as possible because it so-called favors minority parties. I’ve never believed that.’’

He’s long been a proponent of same-day registration.

“It just drives the conservatives crazy,” Durenberger said. “If we’re going to spend billions of dollars in advertising, why can’t we make the process work? And now we get to the harder part. If we made it so easy that [80] percent of the people show up and cast a vote, how do we assure them these votes will count?”

Durenberger has some other thoughts.

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About the ongoing verbal sparring between the Franken and Coleman campaigns, he said: “It doesn’t do any good.  It’s the kind of thing we’re trying to obviate today. Somebody accused [Secretary of State] Mark Ritchie of being a Democrat. Well, of course, he’s a Democrat. The same people weren’t accusing [former Secretary of State Mary] Kiffmeyer of being a Republican.”

Durenberger was asked if he was turning toward the left in his senior years.

“No, I’m so centrist I can’t stand it,’’ he replied. “Gene McCarthy said, when he was running against me, ‘That’s where all the accidents happen, in the middle of the road.’ So, now I’m an accident.”

 Durenberger laughed … which this recount needs more of.