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Hennepin elections chief Rachel Smith shoots back; Canvassing Board to meet Friday

Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith this evening responded to Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton's allegation that she is "siding" with Mark Dayton's recount effort.

In an interview with MinnPost, Smith said: "I don't work for either party, I work for the citizens of Hennepin County. I am trying to do the best job I can to get through a half-million ballots in the allotted time, and do it as fairly and expeditiously as I can."

Sutton also claimed that Smith was intimidating the GOP.

"I only intimidate mice, in my office," said Smith, the 5-foot-2, 120-pound elections boss, with a chuckle.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office announced that the State Canvassing Board will convene at 2 p.m. Friday to discuss "attempted challenges deemed frivolous" by elections judges statewide. GOP candidate Tom Emmer's lawyer Eric Magnuson wrote to the board (PDF) earlier this week seeking clarification on how — and if — these challenges would be reviewed by the board.

Dayton's legal team is poised to reveal how frivolous it regards many of the challenges. The Friday meeting will be held at the State Office Building, Room 10.

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Comments (10)

Is Emmer's Eric Magnuson the same that just left the MN Supreme Court or just a ironic coincidence?

It is the same Magnuson.

It is my theory that the Republicans want to have enough "frivolous" votes thrown out so that if all those challenges were decided in their favor they would win the election. They would need this for any court case based on this issue to proceed. Then when the court takes the sensible postion that they are indeed frivolous the Republicans can say that corrupt officials stole another election from them. Truth is not an issue for them.

As far as I can tell, they're challenging nowhere near enough ballots to flip the results.

It's all about stalling: The more ballots they challenge, then demand the canvassing board evaluate them no matter how frivolous.

And from what I've heard today, I apparently am incorrect in the numbers. It sounds like Tony Trimble expects to have close to 8,800 "challenged" ballots sent to the canvas board.

Still, given the percentage that have been deemed frivolous, I still think it's more a matter of delay, as the canvas board will most likely have to sort through all of those.

I see two things in the Emmer camp's behavior:

1) they want to complicate and drag out the
process as much as possible, thus increasing
the chance that some kind of error or anomaly
will occur that they can use for a lawsuit,

2) they haven't got a good legal theory to
ground a lawsuit yet, and so they are stalling
for time to let their legal eagles work.

These challenges, while time consuming, aren't
enough to drag the process out past Jan 3 --
even with 9,000 of them (which I doubt they

After serving as a Dayton recount observer this week in Anoka County it seems to me that the Emmer people have forgotten that each of the 'frivolous" challenges they make represent the vote of an eligible MN voter and they are trying to take away this individual's vote . A very undemocratic and punitive practice on someone they don't even know. Shame!!

Rachel Smith does work for the voters of Hennepin County. As one of those to whom you she is responsible, I would like to know (1) why the messed up reporting on election night and (2) how it is possible to claim with a straight face that this was a "reporting error," not a "counting error." The only way the voters of Hennepin County know the count is by Rachel Smith's office's reporting. My concern isn't a political. It has to do with managment, performance and responsibility in a situation where the office staff knew without a doubt the history of the 2008 recount and should have been more careful.

Mr. Levin: The count was correct. The only thing that was not - and which was promptly fixed - was a glitch in the count information sent to the county.

I'm surprised you did not know this.

A friend who is volunteering to help the recount effort finds the Emmer representatives challenging ballots (if they have a Dayton vote) for merely having a write-in vote anywhere on the ballot. The people doing this must know, unless they are very dim indeed, that this is not a legitimate challenge; presumably they are behaving this way on orders from Sutton's office.

As has been pointed out above, this is an attempt to disenfranchise legitimate voters. This goes beyond frivolous challenge - this is deliberate and mischievous obstructionism intended to delay and complicate the recount. There should be some penalty associated with intentional hobbling of the process.

Ms. Vetsch: Please re-read what I wrote. I know the story. Let me try this again. I am saying that the only way the citizens of Hennepin County know what the count was is what by what is reported to them, since they don't actually see or participate in the counting. What I'm concerned about is ducking a significant management issue at Hennepin County by calling it by a different name.