New recount wrinkle: Republicans want proof there were no ‘phantom voters’ in governor’s race

Minnesota Republicans and Tom Emmer’s campaign brought a new issue into the complicated governor’s race recount today when they filed a petition with the state Supreme Court asking for assurance that “reconciliation” of all votes took place in the November election — to be sure there were not more votes than voters.

State Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton said this afternoon that he and the Emmer campaign want to resolve the issue before the recount begins.

Under state law, he said, each of the state’s 4,136 precincts is supposed to reconcile its votes on Election Night — that is, count the number of names signed on the registry and compare that with the total number of votes cast.

If the two numbers don’t gibe, then the law requires the election judges to randomly toss out the number of votes that are overcast, he said. His example: If 100 people signed the registry in a precinct, but 105 votes were counted, then five ballots would be randomly removed from the count.

But Sutton said a dozen election judges have signed affidavits saying that reconciliation did not occur in their precincts. Those judges are from Hennepin and Ramsey counties, and other areas of the state, he said.

Sutton said they are asking the Supreme Court to ensure that reconciliation has occurred before the scheduled recount later this month. DFLer Mark Dayton’s lead of fewere than 9,000 votes triggers the automatic recount.

Sutton said he doesn’t know that there are over-votes, or if reconciliation will help Emmer’s bid to win the election, but wants the business settled before the recount.

He said that in the 2008 election it appeared there were at least 17,000 more votes cast than the number of voters signing in at the polls.

Bert Black of the Secretary of State’s Office said this afternoon that the office couldn’t comment on reconciliation because it is named in the legal action.

Asked if he was implying that someone had stuffed the ballot box, Sutton said:

“I’m not implying anything. We just want to follow state law.”

But he said proper reconciliation “could be a potential game changer” for Emmer’s bid. “If what happened in ’08 happened again this year, it could be a game changer.”

Sutton said he hopes the court acts quickly, so the counties can perform any reconciliations that weren’t properly done on Election Night before the Nov. 23 when the state canvassing meets.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Christopher Moseng on 11/17/2010 - 04:02 pm.

    The allegation isn’t that the reconciliation wasn’t done at all, but that it was done in a manner otherwise than the statute sets out. Maybe so, but it’s making a mountain out of a molehill. If the numbers were reconciled in the polling places to something other than the roster, re-reconciling is an extreme administrative burden for what will amount to no substantial benefit to the conduct of the election.

    If the Republicans had a problem with how pollworkers were being trained to conduct reconciliation, why wasn’t the erroneous training enjoined before the election?

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/17/2010 - 04:29 pm.

    “Sutton said a dozen election judges have signed affidavits saying that reconciliation did not occur in their precincts.”

    Why would the SoS accept affidavits affirming derilection of duty in the first place?

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/17/2010 - 06:33 pm.

    And of course it’s impossible to prove a negative.

  4. Submitted by Joseph Skar on 11/17/2010 - 06:51 pm.

    How could this process be done incorrectly on election night? I’m just a lowly accountant but if I were attempting to certify a vote wouldn’t the logical the first step need to be determining the total population of votes. Any errors occurring it this step of the process would be very unfortunate. Submitting results should not occur until this reconciliation is done. That said, shouldn’t this process be done as part of the recount anyway.

    Step 1 – Make and count three piles of votes; Emmer, Dayton, and other.

    Step 2 – Add three piles

    Step 3 – Compare sum of three piles to total registrations.

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/17/2010 - 10:08 pm.

    This is simply an attempt to remove all provisional votes instead of having them evaluated.Voter suppression at its finest.

    At a minimum, the issue is not ripe for court consideration since reconciliation comes out of the statewide canvass. Consequently, the court will likely dismiss the complaint without prejudice, allowing the matter to be refiled after completion of the recount and if such discrepancies remain.

  6. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 11/18/2010 - 06:37 am.

    Is it true or just another urban myth:

    …that some regional toymaker has created a wind-up toy called “TONY”?

    Wind the little, round, tin creature up and a nauseating whine repeats its mantra “Recount, Recount” over and over and over.

    If you’re in the holiday mood send one to your Republican friends, or enemies.

    Makes a great stocking stuffer; or wherever you want to stuff it.

  7. Submitted by Don Medal on 11/18/2010 - 07:25 am.

    Smells fishy.

    If election judges had issues with process, why not address them at the time? They had a duty, now say they didn’t act on that duty? Sounds like sabotage to me. Any judge in the future could allege that procedure wasn’t followed and sabotage the election.

    Is there any evidence this might influence the results of the election? Are we talking about dozens or thousands of votes?

Leave a Reply