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Election officials prepare for possible Supreme Court recounts in primary

Minnesota’s top elections officials said this week there’s the possibility of a recount in two of the three state Supreme Court races on the Aug. 14 primary ballot, making it the second recount scenario facing high court candidates since 2008.

In Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea’s race, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said the two lesser-known candidates – Jill Clark and Dan Griffith – could trigger a recount because voters aren’t familiar with them, which leads to traditionally close election results.

Two judge candidates for each seat can appear on the Nov. 6 full election ballot, which could leave Clark and Griffith vying for the second spot separated by thin margins.

In 2008, Gildea beat out Clark and Deborah Hedlund to win the primary, but the two were so close it triggered a recount. Hedlund won the recount against Clark but failed to oust Gildea in the general election.

“You have a well-known candidate, an incumbent, and multiple not very well known candidates, which can mean a very close vote between the second and third persons and therefore trigger a taxpayer-paid recount,” Ritchie said on Monday.

In the second case, Associate Justice David Stras – appointed by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2010 – faces Alan Nelson and Tim Tingelstad in the primary.

A recount would have to be completed by about Aug. 27 to ensure that the proper ballots can be printed for the general elections, which means that both would have to be completed very quickly, Ritchie said.

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