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Rudy Takala's Columns

Ruling Increases Rep. Franson Lead by 10

I have been paying attention to this race as Rep. Franson is a conservative member of the House, and one of my organizations gave her $100 earlier this year. She won her first re-election this month by one vote and is presently in the middle of a recount that should be finished by November 30th. The following is good news, courtesy of Steve Hensley's Real Capitol View.
__________________________________
 
Another chapter in the Franson vs. Cunniff election has been written but the book isn’t finished just yet.
 
Yesterday the Real Capitol View covered State Representative Mary Franson’s court hearing to entertain her motion to withdraw 35 ballots that were wrongly cast in the District 8B election.
 
Two wards within the City of Alexandria – Cunniff won the city by a large margin – saw ballots incorrectly given out to voters in the wrong voting wards. And in one ward – Ward 3 – local election officials are speculating that 3 voters who cast ballots didn’t sign the voting roster, leading to 3 excess ballots. The two issues lead to 35 votes being in question.
 
Three polling places in Alexandria have more than one ward voting at the same location, which led to some people receiving ballots for the wrong district.
 
Yesterday’s hearing didn’t take place as expected, as Judge Ann Carrot recused herself on the grounds that her husband was a former colleague and supporter of Cunniff’s in the election.
 
District Court Judge David Battey, who took over from Carrot, today ruled for Franson, citing the fact that election officials knew there were voting errors on election night. Therefore, 35 ballots will be randomly removed from the three precincts in question.
 
The actual order reads, “Although it can reasonably be argued that the discrepancy in votes resulted from errors in the administration of the election of distribution of ballots, the Court finds that the discrepancy ultimately resulted in counting and recording errors. An “obvious error” is an error that appears evident from an examination of the returns made by the various precincts. The Douglas County Canvassing Board acknowledge that the final vote counts from the involved precincts are not accurate. An obvious error would be if the total votes cast for one office exceeded the total number of votes in the precinct. Therefore, the Court finds than an obvious error did occur.”
 
Cunniff’s argument was that the 3 ballots in Ward 3 should not be counted, citing Minnesota State Statue 204c.20, which states that ballots can be withdrawn if errors are made by voters, not election judges – which was the case in the other two wards. Judge Battey opted to allow all 35 votes to be removed.
 
While the court matter is settled, the larger issue of who wins the election is not. Because Franson’s margin of victory was less than one half of a percent an automatic recount has to happen.
 
Due to the ruling today, 35 ballots will be pulled randomly from the three wards. As of now Franson leads by one vote but the total between the two candidates will not be known until tomorrow morning after the ballots are removed.
 
The recount will begin November 28 and is expected to not last longer than November 30 according to local election officials.

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