The Minnesota State Senate District 20 recount begins Wednesday, November 28 in those counties that make up the Senate district. Rice County will be the site of the first recount, beginning at 8:30am on Wednesday morning. LeSueur County will do its recount on Thursday, November 29, and Scott County will finish up on Friday morning. Each county will finish their recounts the same day they start. We should know the results of the 3 county recounts by noon on Friday, Nov. 30.
Every person 18 years of age or older who is a United States citizen residing in the State of Minnesota for more than 20 days prior to an election has a constitutional right to vote. It is imperative that those observing the recount keep in mind that we are protecting a constitutional right that each citizen and qualified voter has in this state. Nothing is more important to a democratic system of government.
The notion that the state ultimately must respect the intent of the voter is derived from this constitutional right of the voter. A voter exercising his or her elective franchise has a right to express their choice. Having a vote on a ballot count need not depend on exactly following the rules or format that a state legislature, Secretary of State, or some election official prescribes. Hence, the touchstone and the biggest factor of voting in Minnesota is that if the voter intends to vote for a candidate, that intent will be honored.
The Minnesota State Canvassing Board met today, November 27, certifying the results of the November 6 election across the nation and state. That certification also triggered the automatic recount since the Senate District 20 race ended within the one half of one percent difference in the final vote tally. The uncertified Election Day results: Kevin Dahle: 20, 628 votes or 50.03%. Mike Dudley: 20,550 votes or 49.84%.
The County Auditor acts as the chief Recount official in the counties represented in the Senate District. Each ballot box, sealed since election night, contains ballots, envelopes, voter registration sign in sheets, lists for absentee ballot voters, and the “tape” from the night of the election for optical scan counting equipment and other materials used on Election Day. The Recount official will begin by opening the boxes, reviewing the summary statements and comparing them to the numbers on the tape.
The 41,000 plus ballots are then counted precinct by precinct. At each table there will be a Recount official and a re-counter for each candidate. The Recount official will open the sealed envelopes containing the ballots and recount them by hand. The Recount official begins by assembling ballots for Dahle, Dudley, other write-ins, blank ballots, and defective ballots. It is during this time that any ballots may be challenged by observers from either candidate. Challenges may not be automatic or frivolous and the challenger must state a basis for the challenge. Those ballots that are challenged will be marked by the Recount official indicating the precinct number where the ballot is from, the name of the person challenging the ballot and the basis of the challenge. Eventually, all challenged ballots will be forwarded to the State Canvassing Board (SCB). The final fate of the challenged ballots will be made by the SCB at their meeting in December.
After the Franken-Coleman recount, the Emmer-Dayton recount, both statewide recounts involving millions of votes, we learned the importance of having a voting system in place that is based on efficiency and integrity. We also learned, once again, how important every vote is in determining who will represent us at all levels of government. Our system of choosing a representative government, a republic works. We are confident that this recount will reaffirm that principle.