Let’s just say it was very relaxed at the Hennepin Count Government Center this morning. There was even a bit of cheering when one particular ballot was examined.
Unlike the hubbub of the previous five days, lawyers for Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer cordially, even collegially, re-examined the more than 2,000 alleged frivolous challenges made by the Emmer team last week. They did so in an ante-room adjacent to the larger area in the Government Center’s ground level.
Generally, they were all casually dressed, too, with Emmer lawyer Eric Magnuson in an orange sports shirt, sans sports jacket. Even normally buttoned-down Dayton lawyer David Lillehaug was seen on that rare day without a tie.
This was Saturday after a snowstorm amid an exercise in Minnesota democracy as demanded by the State Canvassing Board.
As we say here in Minnesota, it was different.
Almost all of the challenges were being withdrawn as noon approached. There were about a dozen that had been set aside as regular and seemingly valid challenges by the Emmer team of Dayton votes. It was a far cry from the tensions of earlier in the week when Emmer lawyer Tony Trimble threatened to keep on increasing these challenges that, it seems now, had no merit.
One of the highlights of the day: Former Chief Justice Magnuson received a write-in vote. It was enough for the usually soft-spoken lawyer to lift both arms as if he had just scored a touchdown.
“I’m not withdrawing that!” he exclaimed.
But, wait. Lillehaug, always the details guy, noted, the voter had spelled Magnuson’s name as “Magnusen” with an E.
A wag in the small group of observers yelled, “That must have been Paul Anderson’s ballot.”
It was a reference to Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson’s finger-wagging Friday at Magnuson about professional responsibility. (Anderson, for the record, does not reside in Hennepin County.)
Whatever … nothing is simple in this recount, which will resume Wednesday, when the Canvassing Board meets to evaluate all of Emmer’s and Dayton’s regular challenges, which now will undoubtedly number fewer than 1,000 statewide, about 8,000 fewer than Dayton’s 9,000-vote lead.