Another Election, Another Recount

A ballot for Norm Coleman from Hennepin County...

Minnesota Ballot from the 2008 Recount (Image via Wikipedia)

It is becoming a habit. A third time, and it’ll be a tradition.

Two years ago, there was a prolonged recount and legal battle over the Minnesota Senate race. This year, it is the Governor’s seat. The Senate recount was one of the most thorough and transparent in U.S. history, it was a squeaker with the margin of the eventual win being around 200 votes out of a total of more than two and a half million cast. Senator Al Franken was not sworn in until July of 2009.

When the Senate recount began, incumbent Norm Coleman led in the vote tally by 215 votes. When it was over, Franken led by 225 votes, a net change of 440. This year, Mark Dayton leads Tom Emmer by nearly 9000 votes, a mountain that seems far too high to climb.

In the Senate election, one of the national issues that lay in the balance was the possible 60th Democratic Senate vote. Franken did eventually supply that vote. But with the death of Ted Kennedy, and the election in January 2010 of Scott Brown, the Democrats held 60 votes for a mere six months.

This year, the national significance lies with outgoing Governor Tim Pawlenty, a contender for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination. In the 2010 election, both the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate moved to Republican majorities. If the recount stretches on long enough, Governor Pawlenty will be able sign some major legislation that will be pushed on a fast track onto his desk. Tom Emmer has been doing what he can to prolong the recount for just this reason.

It’s unlikely Emmer can win. But he can influence what Minnesota looks like for the next two years. And he can help build Pawlenty’s national image.

I’ll be commenting on the recount and the eventual outcome. Tomorrow, I’ll try to bring everyone up to date.


About dcpetterson

D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He lives with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and two lizards, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts for fun.
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4 Responses to Another Election, Another Recount

  1. shortchain says:

    You left out an important fact: on the basis of an analysis of the last recount, the legislature passed a bill which would have made changes to existing Minnesota law — changes that pretty much everybody agreed would make things more certain, more uniform, and less contestable. Under the provisions of that bill, we would not now be having to recount, saving everybody a lot of money.

    Pawlenty vetoed it. And now stands to personally gain by his veto. This is nothing short of malfeasance in office, and, if he were trying to preserve a shred of appearing honest, he’d step aside if the recount is not decided before he is supposed to be replaced. But he won’t, because he doesn’t even pretend to be governing Minnesota for Minnesotans anymore — this state is just a springboard for his political ambitions.

    I’d call him dishonest, but, as he’s already a Republican, that would be redundant.

  2. dcpetterson says:

    Right you are, shortchain. In typical Republican fashion, Pawlenty stood squarely in the way of meaningful reform.

    In a sense, however, the Minnesota system worked well. The recount, as I noted, was clean and thorough and transparent. Only a blind partisan can claim it was not fair.

    It was, however, lengthy and prolonged, and Norm Coleman used a lot of legal tricks to prolong it, so as to deny the senate Democrats their 60th vote for as long as he could. In the same way, Emmer is already using some tricks in an attempt to unnecessarily prolong the current recount, including making hundreds of frivolous challenges, and a lawsuit that sought to delay the start of the recount and then possibly throw out hundreds of legally-cast votes.

    We see Republican delaying tactics now at all levels of government, as Congressional Republicans have been trying to prevent reform on the national level for two years, and will try to prevent business from getting done in the lame duck session.

    Yet we can say with confidence that the brakes will be off in Minnesota if the recount stretches long enough for Pawlenty to temporarily preside over a friendly state legislature. I shudder to think what sort of economy- and reform-killing regressive bills we’ll see hurried into law before Mark Dayton is sworn in.

  3. Mr. Universe says:

    Frankly it would not surprise me if Coleman and the Republicans stonewalled while waiting for either Byrd or Kennedy to pass specifically to throw a monkey wrench into the vote on Health Care Reform.

  4. filistro says:

    Sigh… this means more months of the FReepers gratuitously badmouthing Minnesota and howling about “vote fraud.”

    Any unbiased observer will agree that Minnesota runs the cleanest, most transparent, most rigorously supervised elections (and recounts) in the entire nation. But that doesn’t stop Freepers from still insisting that Al Franken is an unqualified bozo who “stole” his Senate seat.

    They’re just such JERKS.

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