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Meeting On Frivolous Ballot Challenges Gets Heated

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(credit: Tom Emmer for Governor)

(credit: Tom Emmer for Governor)

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By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Thousands of ballots will get a closer look from the lawyers in the Minnesota gubernatorial recount, but it’s becoming clearer that Republican Tom Emmer won’t overcome a lead by Democrat Mark Dayton.

Some of those challenged ballots got a closer look Friday by the canvassing board at the State Capitol, and the board was not happy with what it saw.

Emmer had promised to withdraw thousands of “frivolous” ballot challenges, but by Friday evening that had not been done. A canvassing board meeting to discuss those challenges turned tense.

At a hastily-called and rare press conference, Emmer said he’d withdraw thousands of “frivolous” ballot challenges made by his campaign.

Hear Tom Emmer’s Opening Statement

But he reserves the right to go to court.

“Let me be very clear.  I am not currently planning an election contest,” said Emmer.

But those ballots were not withdrawn later, when the Canvassing Board met.

They saw some of the hundreds of Dayton ballots Emmer challenged, like one on the basis that the voter had written in names for other races.

Canvassing Board Judge Gregg Johnson was appalled.

“It kind of borders on the ludicrous,” said Johnson.

That set off a number of testy exchanges at the stormy meeting.

Emmer’s attorney claimed to have never seen the Renville County Dayton votes, which he said should never have been challenged.

“You’ve got a representative in Renville County of the Emmer campaign who was zealous, who was overzealous,” said Magnuson.

That did not appease board members. In fact, it appeared to irritate them more.

Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson lectured Magnuson, who happens to be the former Chief Justice.

He warned him and the Emmer team about penalties for violating professional rules of conduct.

“And you understand the consequences of those rules, talk about frivolous matters, do you not?” said Anderson.

It didn’t seem like it Friday, but the canvassing board still intends to get its work done on schedule, by Dec. 14.

The numbers make it unlikely Emmer can win a recount, but what he’ll do next is undecided.

Emmer reserves the right to go to court based on what the recount shows, based on whether those frivolous and other ballot challenges are successful and based on a supreme court opinion that he is still expecting. He said he’ll have to weigh a lot of things and then decide after Dec. 14.

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler Reports

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Telly Mamayek Reports

Watch The Full Press Conference

WCCO-TV’s Holly Wagner Reports

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