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Recount Redux: Sorting Ballots In Gov. Race

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(credit: CBS)

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By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV, Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV and Telly Mamayek, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) – Election officials around Minnesota are cracking the seals on ballot boxes as they launch a recount in the state’s governor’s race.

And so far, it’s been a little slow going.

Hennepin County Elections Manager Rachel Smith said volunteers from the Emmer campaign are challenging about one out of every three or four ballots.

Smith said a good number of those are being deemed frivolous by election officials. She said Emmer’s volunteers are challenging ballots where there’s a check mark or the circle is not being completely filled in.

The process of deeming ballots “frivolous” is new since the 2008 recount. Guidelines have been set in order to speed up the process and reduce the number of ballots that are challenged.

Smith said there was a mishap this morning where volunteers were confused on what to do with the frivolous ballots. The confusion had Emmer’s attorneys pointing fingers.

A dispute with election officials lasted more than 30 minutes regarding the issue of frivolous ballots. Tony Trimble, an attorney for the Republican Party, expressed his frustration to a representative in the city clerk’s office after the dispute.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Telly Mamayek Reports

“Every rule has to be followed and every challenge goes into the challenge pile,” he said. “And if not, we’re going to court this minute.”

At that point, Smith pulled attorneys from both teams into a separate room for a brief closed door meeting.

The attorneys left the meeting and went from table-to-table talking to volunteers counting ballots, as well as representatives from Dayton and Emmer. As a result of some of those conversations, a few tables were forced to start over from the beginning.

In St. Paul, Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky called the recount a sequel to a movie he didn’t really want to see again.

Democrat Mark Dayton is hoping the recount confirms his nearly 8,800-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer. More than 2.1 million votes must be recounted in a process that will run into next week.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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