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.
A few weeks ago, I sat in on an adult forum at a local church where several dozen people gathered to discuss a timely topic: Civil Discourse in Politics Today. Participants shared their views on the current state of politics and the stream of negative ads and opinions that flood our airwaves, mailboxes, and social media. We shared ideas about what positive and productive civic discourse would look like. In our descriptions we repeatedly used words like respect, objectivity, and trust. There was a general sense of yearning that we move toward greater civility in future elections and our fervent hope that, in this regard, we have not reached a point of no return. There was a consensus that when Election Day arrives it will be met with relief. It is on this day when votes will be cast and we commence with the peaceful transition of power. We will feel good about exercising our civic responsibility and ready to take a break from what has been dismissed as, “politics as usual.”
After this long campaign season of promises, positioning, and partisanship, there are those who have made the decision not to vote. This disheartens me. They say that their vote does not matter. They say that the current state of politics has caused them to turn their back on the process. I would urge each one to consider this excerpt from Bill Moyers from his book Moyers on America: a Journalist and His Times. This former White House Press Secretary aptly describes why politics still matter:
America faces what scholar James Davidson Hunter describes as “the never ending work of democracy:” the tedious, hard, perplexing, messy, and seemingly endless task of working through what kind of people we are going to be and what kind of communities we will live in. Politics is the work of democracy and it encompasses practically everything that we can and must do together: how we educate our children, design our communities and neighborhoods, feed ourselves, and dispose of our waste, care for the sick, elderly and poor, relate to the natural world, entertain and enlighten ourselves, and defend ourselves. It also affects what values we seek to defend, what roles we are chosen for us by virtue of our identity, and what roles we create for ourselves.
Your vote matters.
I am proud to be endorsed by the following organizations in my upcoming election for the Minnesota State Senate. It is truly a great cross section of the many groups and supporters in areas such as equality, education, working class Minnesotans, public services, safety, environment and natural resources, and health care. I am anxious to work for all of my constituents as we take back the legislature and provide a voice for the people of this great State.
|Minnesota Farm Bureau|
|Minnesota Farmers Union PAC|
|MN Nurses Association|
|Clean Water Action|
|AFSCME Council 65|
|MPPOA - MN Police & Peace Officers Association|
|DFL Veterans Caucus|
|IBEW of MN|
|United Transportation Union|
|Care Providers of MN|
|MN Professional Firefighters|
|Small Business Minnesota PAC|
|Take Action MN|
As many of you know, there have been at least 4 negative mailings put out against me by something called the Freedom PAC. A look at the donor list for this Republican PAC leads us to a long list of wealthy corporate donors intent on spreading political half-truths, inuendo, misplaced facts, and propaganda. In many ways I thank them. Every time they send one out, another slew of people contact me ready to support my candidacy and donate to my campaign. “What can we do about these mailings?” they ask. “Who can I complain to?” “How can I donate to your campaign?” Negative campaigns promote cynicism among the electorate, give politics a bad name, and turns people away from the political process. That is unfortunate.
Many of the mailings have claimed I voted to spend $400,000 on abrass band music library, a sculpture garden, a polar bear exhibit, or a bird atlas? Really? All of these projects were part of an $800 million bonding bill, eventually signed into law by then Governor Tim Pawlenty. The State of Minnesota sells General Obligation Tax Exempt and Taxable Bonds, Revenue Bonds, the proceeds coming from the sale of General Obligation bonds that are used to pay the cost of building the capital projects that are approved by the Legislature. The Freedom PAC has cherry picked from the hundreds of infrastructure and construction projects that typically make up a bonding bill passed by every legislature in non-budget years. Those projects are carefully vetted and chosen by the capital investment committee and typically mean hundreds of other projects are left on the committee floor. Bonding bills are job creators, not job crushers. Interest rates are at an all time low with constructions workers eager to work on projects that invest in Minnesota. These investments include our public universities, our zoos, municipal buildings, structures that have regional economic impact, roads and bridges, and other public projects. Legislators are asked to vote the entire bonding bill up or down. These bonding bills typically have broad bipartisan support and the debt service on the bonds make up a tiny portion of the overall state budget.
Joe Kimball of MinnPost wrote about the Brass Band Music Library several years ago. Look for similar references to surface in campaign lit over and over again across the state over the next few weeks. His story, in the link that follows, puts things into context much better than I can.
As Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story. Happy trails to all of you! And thanks for your support.