A mere mention of the word "recount" triggers memories of hanging chads, court battles and Florida in 2000.
But something you should know, say Minnesota election officials, is that this isn't Florida.
"Florida had no state voter intent law like we do, which was one of the reasons that their recount was so chaotic," said Joe Mansky, the chief elections official in Ramsey County.
He explained, as Minnesota prepares to review each of the nearly 3 million ballots cast in the U.S. Senate race here, a state law makes it much easier to decide how those votes should be registered.
Election judges in every county and major cities will look for any marks that clearly indicate a voter's intent. A circle around the candidate's name, a check mark, or an "x" all can be interpreted legally as signaling a voter's intent, even though that voter failed to fill in the optical-scan oval as directed.
Those votes that wouldn't have been counted by a scanning machine will be counted now, and a panel made up of four judges and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will settle any disputes.
"Any that are questionable or challenged go in a third pile, and they will eventually come to the canvassing board for being determined, ultimately, if we know the voters intent or not," Ritchie said.
As of Wednesday night, Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman was leading his Democratic challenger Al Franken by 477 votes, or .01 percent. A margin narrower than .5 percent triggers an automatic recount under Minnesota state law.
In Ramsey County, Mansky said about two of every 1,000 ballots cast in any given election typically are defective, meaning they weren't counted by the optical scan machines.
Extrapolated statewide, that means there could be almost 6,000 new votes in the recount -- more than enough to swing the election.
Coleman said he was opposed to the recount Wednesday and claimed he won the election. He blamed Franken for the recount, despite the fact that their virtual dead heat automatically triggered the recount.
"Mr. Franken has the right to pursue an official review of the election results," Coleman said. "It is up to him whether such a step is worth the tax dollars it will take to conduct."
Secretary of State Ritchie said the automatic recount would cost three cents per ballot, or roughly $87,000.
Franken said the votes should be counted.
"We are lucky enough to live in a state with built-in protections to ensure that, in close elections like these, the will of the people is accurately reflected in the outcome," Franken said.
The official recount begins in two weeks and could stretch into December or beyond.
Both candidates will send observers to every county to watch the people reviewing the ballots. And both candidates have enlisted former U.S. attorneys to represent them in court if they're not satisfied with the way the recount is going.
David Lillehaug is representing Franken and said they would look into reports of voting irregularities.
Tom Heffelfinger is representing Coleman and said, in a statement, "The Secretary of State must ensure, without delay, the security of all ballots in the state, and to ensure that the voters of Minnesota have the highest degree of confidence that their votes are being protected aggressively." __________________________________________________________
This may be one race where my one vote might actually count. I voted for Franken, mainly cuz I'm sick of Coleman, and I'm GOP.
I saw this on the news last night and found it very interesting about the recount actually taking those "intended" votes into account. This is going to be an interesting month or three.
Senate race continues to tighten; deficit down to 337 votes
MINNEAPOLIS -- Democrat Al Franken says the recount of votes in his U.S. Senate race should proceed in order to make sure that every vote is counted properly.
Republican Sen. Norm Coleman leads Franken in unofficial returns by 337 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast. That's well within the margin that triggers an automatic recount.
Coleman has declared himself the victor in the race and said Wednesday that Franken should consider stepping aside. But Franken said on Minnesota Public Radio Thursday morning that "candidates don't get to decide when an election's over -- voters do."
Franken says if the recount determines he lost, then "I'll be the first to congratulate Senator Coleman."
NOt that I can remember. The only thing Ventura-ish I remember about the campaign was that for about two hours there was a possibility that Ventura was going to run against Coleman. I think it was Jesse's Jack Sparrow beard knock-off that made his advisors tell him not to go.
Ventura ended up campaigning for Dean Barkley, the 3rd party candidate who ended up receiving about 15% of the vote. A Rasmussen poll from right before the election said that Barkley had the support of 10% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans. From those numbers one can posit that Barkley played spoiler to Franken.
I can't find a link anywhere, but on the local news this morning, they said that a town in MN mis-read Franken'votes in their town as 24 instead of 124, so the split is down to 220-some votes. Out of 2.7 million. That is crazy, but not the closest races: ------------------------------------------------ http://www.sos.state.mn.us/student/Onevote2.htm
In the 2003/ 2004 elections, in the race for MN State Senator between Grace Stabell Schwab (R) and Dan Sparks (DFL), the race was decided by just 7 votes. Schwab received 15,084 while Sparks won with 15,091 votes. That same year, a MN State Representative race was won by just 46 votes, by Rep. Ray Cox (R). -------------------------------------------------
That's not the closest, tho:
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected as our third President by one vote in the US House of Representatives, after receiving a tie in the Electoral College. That one vote prevented Aaron Burr, who would later be charged with treason, from becoming President.
One thing is certain: the final margin in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race is still not certain. The day after the election, Sen. Norm Coleman led Al Franken by 725 votes. By Wednesday night the lead was 477 votes. By Thursday night it was 336. As of Monday morning, it's 204.
All 87 counties must certify their results Monday and then send their results to the state by Friday.
The state will certify those results on Nov. 18 and then the statewide recount will start.
Counties must submit their recount results to the state by Dec. 5. The state canvassing board will start meeting on Dec. 16 to rule on disputed ballots.
Here is the official recount timeline:
November 12 - Exact dates, times and locations of county-by-county recounts to be made public
November 18 - State canvassing board approves recount plan
December 5 - Deadline for Counties to complete their recounts and forward disputed ballots to sec of state
December 16 - State canvassing board meets to begin work on disputed ballots
December 19 - State canvassing board to wrap up work on disputed ballots and final count
After the final vote count is certified the campaigns can launch formal legal actions to contest the state's official results. _______________________________________________________ I bet it gets down to less than 100 by the time recount starts.
Here's an article from FiveThirtyEight.Com that details the relevant factors to figuring out the eventual winner. There are two types of correctable errors. There is overvoting, where the machine registers two votes for the same race. This can happen when you've marked one, then you cross it out and mark a second one (my polling place had signs teling me to get a new ballot if I made a mistake, but not everyone is going to see that or know to do that). The second type is undervoting, where you don't vote at all for one race, even though you've voted for the other races. This can happen if you're filling out the ballot incorrectly, like putting a check mark or an x by the candidates name rather than filling in the circle.
We can figure out the odds of one candidate winning if we can estimate the number of ballots which are going to suffer from those two types of errors (he estimates it at between .25% and .9% of ballots), as well as the percentage of votes the two candidates are going to receive among those corrected ballots. Obviously if the corrected votes go 50/50 (or actually 42/42/16), that means Coleman still wins. Luckily for Franken the demographics that he did well in are the demographics that studies have shown make more of those errors (low income voters, minorities, first-time voters). But given the range of possible values of these two factors, it's too early to tell how it could end up.
Originally posted by CajunManColeman's lead seems to be shrinking everyday, Something fishy, or just plenty of errors, miscounts?
Depending on who you read and who they favor, it seems like all of the above are happening. For instance, according to the Wall Street Journal (online.wsj.com)you've got goofy things like the Director of elections announcing 72 hours after the election that she had forgotten to count 32 absentee ballots that were in the back seat of her car. On the other hand, fivethirtyeight (fivethirtyeight.com) has a fairly convincing argument that the changing vote totals are merely indicative of the demographics of those likely to make errors while filling out their ballot. Either way, I don't think we're ever going to know for sure who the winner "really" was in this race. In addition, it's an absolute certainty that this will end up in court multiple times.
Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. -- Erasmus
All others things being equal, the simplest solution is usually stupidity. -- Darwin Minor
It is worth pointing out that Coleman is picking up votes too, not just Franken. Irregularities like this happen in every election, it just happened that this time the race was close enough that they make a difference.
Also interesting is the Minnesota law that says if a voter does something to make their ballot identifiable, the ballot is invalid. So several were challenged on the basis that a signature or a fingerprint is identifiable.
Also: Lizard People. Currently a 135 vote lead for Coleman, but they'll have to review all the challenged ballots before they're completely done.