ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota board on Tuesday ordered a recount in the state’s undecided governor’s race but didn’t immediately settle some of the unresolved mechanics about the rules governing the recount.

The five-member State Canvassing Board certified election totals that show Democrat Mark Dayton with an 8,770-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer. That’s within the half-percentage point margin that makes a recount automatic under state law.

The recount is scheduled to begin Monday and finish by mid-December. The new governor is to take office Jan. 3, but that could be delayed if either side files a legal challenge to the recount result.

Tuesday’s certification of the numbers was mostly a formality once it was clear that the unofficial election night numbers weren’t going to change enough to raise Dayton’s lead to more than half a point. The major issue for both the Dayton and Emmer camps was how the board would handle recount rules, and it spent hours going over them.

Among the biggest clashes is who decides on what ballot challenges are considered “frivolous.” A new rule adopted after the lengthy 2008 recount of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race gave local authorities more power to question the validity of a challenge from a campaign.

Two years ago, campaign representatives challenged more than 6,600 ballots, some for nothing more than stray marks or coffee stains that did nothing to cast doubt on the voter’s intent. The campaigns eventually withdrew more than 5,000 of them to spare the board from having to rule on who, if anyone, deserved the vote.

Emmer’s campaign argued that local officials shouldn’t have final authority to block challenges. Some on the canvassing board agreed and argued that the five-member panel should have the ability to review those decisions.

Justice Paul Anderson said he understands the fear of a flood of misguided challenges, but he also worries about giving the loser grounds to sue later.

“All I want, honest to God, is to get this thing resolved so the people of Minnesota can get the governor they elected,” Anderson said.

Eric Magnuson, an Emmer attorney, said the board should trust campaigns not to abuse their right to challenge.

“We have been sternly admonished not to be frivolous and we take that seriously,” he said.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (12)
  1. Greg Laden says:

    I’m afraid the board may have doomed the process for a successful State SC challenge by creating a de facto “official frivolous ballot” category. See this:

  2. GParrish says:

    Who cares we have the best politicians that money can buy.

  3. Chase says:

    $20 says Dayton will be declared winner by a small margin.
    Any takers?

  4. Brandon says:

    Emmer should just give up he already knows he lost thats all he is going to do is spend more state money that the state does not have Mr. Emmer grow up you would be a terrible governor so your just wasting state money for a loss why waste money and embarrass yourself by losing twice. Go dayton

  5. Kim says:

    Brandon, please note that the recount is mandated by state law, not by Tom
    Emmer choosing to waste state monies.

    1. Brandon says:

      first learn how to spell and Emmer could of chose not have a recount so like a said he is wasting money

  6. Tracer says:

    I am not at all fond of Mark Dayton, But hopefully he wins so that there doesn’t throw Pawlenty back in to the national spotlight. This conservative independent would vote for Obama if he was the challenger

  7. Greg Laden says:

    Kim, sort of. Emmer has the option of conceding. The recount is only mandated if there is a 0.5% difference between candidates that have not conceded.

    Not that I’m entirely against a recount. I mean, last one was so fun and all.

  8. S. Johnson says:

    This is just a ploy to delay Dayton from taking office. Nothing more than a power grab by the GOP.

  9. Doug says:

    dont worry – the democrats will steal this election too. Just like the senate seat went to a comedian – who is not funny….

    Good Government – one of the great oxymorons ever

    Democrat Party – another confusion of terms – there has never been anything like democracy in the democrats – scratch a liberal and you will find an autocate!


    1. Volunteer Election Worker says:

      @Doug–How can one “steal” something that is already theirs? Dayton has nearly a 9,000 vote lead (and will probably wind up with a bit more).

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