ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican Tom Emmer’s legal options for reversing the outcome of the Minnesota governor’s race narrowed Tuesday amid signs that a recount would draw to a quicker conclusion than anticipated.

A state Supreme Court opinion appeared to close off Emmer’s ability to disqualify some votes and make up ground on Democrat Mark Dayton, who was leading by about 9,000 votes. Last month, the court had rejected Emmer’s petition to make local officials match the number of votes and voters using polling place rosters; Tuesday’s opinion offered the court’s rationale and gave support to an alternate process used by some local authorities.

Emmer had been waiting on the detailed opinion as he weighs whether to pursue a lawsuit over the election. His campaign didn’t immediately comment on the court’s explanation.

The state board overseeing the recount may be able to certify a winner sooner than it had planned because a stack of challenged ballots has shrunk considerably. The timing of the certification matters because Emmer has seven days from that point to file any lawsuit, and built-in trial steps threatened to push the case beyond a scheduled Jan. 3 inauguration date.

Dayton wouldn’t be permitted to take office until after any court case was resolved. Under the state constitution, departing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty would remain in office indefinitely.

As it stands, Dayton is primed to break his party’s 20-year absence in the governor’s mansion and to deny Republicans their 30th governorship in a year when the GOP padded its ranks.

Some steps remain before Dayton can celebrate.

The state Canvassing Board convenes Wednesday to rule on ballots challenged during the manual recount of 2.1 million votes. There had been more than 900 challenges, but both campaigns voluntarily retracted some on Tuesday.

About 200 ballot challenges remain, substantially less than Emmer’s vote deficit. The board had set aside three days to review the challenged ballots. But state Elections Director Gary Poser said Tuesday it is “certainly possible they could get entirely through the regular challenges tomorrow depending on how they pace it.”

Certification, which had been scheduled for Dec. 14, could come by week’s end.

“The sooner the better,” said Dayton attorney Charlie Nauen.

An Emmer attorney, Eric Magnuson, wouldn’t say if his client would object to a speedier conclusion, which would start the clock on a lawsuit sooner.

“When they’re done with their work, they’ll do what they’re going to do,” Magnuson said. “They can do whatever they want.”

In the Supreme Court’s decision, justices said local officials were within their power to use more than one method for pairing the number of votes and voters. In some places, officials count slips of paper known as voter receipts rather than count signatures in polling place rosters. The goal is to make sure vote tallies in precincts match the number of voters.

Emmer had argued that the alternate process was outside the law. The justices, in an unsigned opinion, disagreed.

“Minnesota’s election laws have not exclusively relied on documents signed by voters to determine the number of ballots to be counted in the election,” they wrote.

In places where there are more votes than voters, the law instructs election judges to randomly disqualify ballots to bring the two in line.

Dayton’s recount director, Ken Martin, said the court’s opinion is a blow to Emmer’s chances for contesting the election later.

“This also makes it clear that any effort to file a legal contest on this matter would lose in court,” Martin said in a written statement.

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

Comments (30)
  1. MrB says:

    For GOD”S sake, QUIT already Emmer!

    1. dave says:

      Quit what? It’s not as if he started the recount. He’s not doing anything yet. Git a grip. Calm down.

    2. Dan says:

      This is why our system is all screwed up. Why not match the computer total with the actual votes. What?? Are they afraid it won’t match up… I know he won’t win, but come on… What a joke…. They know it won’t match up….

  2. Jackie says:

    the recounts are a waste of time and we should change the law. This cost time & money and ties up the court system with BS.

  3. jim says:

    typical republican … holding the voters hostage, yet again. I am disgusted. it’s unlikely i will ever again vote for a republican.

  4. sb says:

    If Emmer really cared about our state budget we would conceed. It’s not only about him. He founght a good battle now it’s time to bow out grafefully and with dignity. If he wastes our money with long drawn out court battles and runs again I won’t even consider voting for him next time.

  5. Phil says:

    This is what republicans are, obstructionionist, whiners, making trouble, costing us time and money, I will never vote for any republican, ever again.

  6. Shawnesy says:

    So im not the only one that thinks this is a waste of time. Sorry Emmer but no matter how many times you do a recount or challenge ballots Dayton is still going to be the winner!

  7. Dave says:

    Man, you people saying that Emmer is the root of this recount need to educate yourselves. There are rules that are followed in an election and because the race was so close (within 0.5% between parties) the recount was automatically started. This has NOTHING to do with Emmer. Liberals, sheesh!!

    1. Paul says:

      Emmer did not trigger the recount, but he could use logic and see that there is no way outside of a court battle that he could win. I understand the Emmer camp waiting to see what the recount brought. But by now they should realize that there is no way to win, he should concede the victory to Dayton.

  8. Mr. T says:

    While Emmer did not trigger the recount, the numerous challenges to ballots with clearly marked intent by his agents (most dropped in embarrassment) sheds light on the devious methods of Emmer, his party and operatives

  9. Maria L says:

    I’ll give Tom the benefit of the doubt so far….he’s being played like a puppet by the party who are appearing to be even bigger babies than the DFL.
    I really have to say my feeling and loyalty to the GOP is almost gone. They are a now becoming a sniveling bunch of little brats.
    Michelle Bachmann …. now there’s a piece of fudge too that embarrases me to no end. WTH is happening to the party??????????
    Totally disgusting

  10. Rhonda says:

    Let’s waste more money Emmer. YOU LOST!!!

  11. Bruiser says:

    where did they go wrong?
    ya gotta be joking me. Arrogance and the so-called Christian right which became hypocrites on day 2. Bachmann’s constant and never ending need to make an arse of herself with her mouth…and face front and center every time she sniffs a camera (she=certifiable nut).
    Not saying the Dem’s much better…take a look at the Independents maybe. They offer 10x what these bums do in the 2 major parties.

  12. truejoe4u says:

    Give it up Emmer. Bow out gracefully and with dignity, now. You fought hard but the counts are what they show: you LOST the Governor’s race.
    Stop wasting any more of the Minnesota’s taxpayer money on you wounded ego trip to the governor’s mansion!

  13. Alex V says:

    The losing candidate has the right to waive the recount. Tom Emmer could end this at any time.

  14. Fran says:

    Emmer, just let go. The more you extend this, the more this will bite you back in the future. You are acting as if you have no interest in future politics. Stop being a forever sour looser. Follow the standards set by VP Mondel when he lost his election to Colman by a narrow margin.

    Why it is difficult for Republicans to let go of elections?
    Jeez, show some class will you?

  15. sb says:

    @Dave, read the thread carefully. I am not seeing where anyone is blaming Emmer for the recount, just opinions that he should not take things further. If Alex V us correct about the candidates right to waive the recount ( I heard the opposite) then yes, he should have done so.

  16. Fascism says:

    Some people are so Corny, like recounts are only suppose to favor democrats. Emmer doesn’t have to over turn the results. What is so wrong about raising questions about vote fraud?

    ACORN workers have plead guilty to felony Voter registration fraud in the past. It’s public record of an organized effort to undermine our election process.

  17. Robbie says:

    I am sorry, my 3rd grade Son shows the same behavior. He can’t accept the loss. What we don’t see from Tom yet is the temper tantrum.

    Let’s stop it after one recount. You don’t have to do it SEVEN times!!!

  18. Voter says:

    Why people don’t consider Voter Fraud could be the reason Emmer had a very narrow lead, as oppose to a wider one?

    If Voter Fraud exists, let’s recount all elections.

    Opinions like “Voter Fraud” are being used to hijack MN voters.

    Some pple have no shame.

  19. Mnkraut says:

    Now’s the time to show some “class” Mr. Emmer. Graciously concede, congratulate Governor-elect Dayton, and move on before your image is tarnished beyond repair. I voted for you, I believe you’re a good man, and I wish you well in you future endeavors.

  20. weary voter says:

    MN state law states that state-paid recount is automatic if the margin is less than 0.50%—unless the trailing candidate concedes. Since Tom Emmer hasn’t conceded he needs to own responsibility for the recount (at the cost of $250,000) going forward.
    So much for being fiscally conservative and controlling spending….

  21. Kyle says:

    I was hoping to read a thoughtful comment from He is always good for a laugh with his conservative spins. He would somehow try to make this the Democrats fault, which would be hilarious.

  22. Unhappy with politics says:

    I can’t believe that this is even an issue. Why so many people in this state actually voted for a candidate who is certifiable! Really Dayton he admitted to us that he was a failure as a senator so now we make him governor??? I may have to move!

  23. Voter says:

    Dayton admitted failure as a Senator (not as a governor though).
    Emmer is acting a failure after loosing the election.

    So, they are kind of in the same boat.

    If the election is about Failure Vs Failure, perhaps a good idea to find a new state to live.

    Haven’t we elected two failures as Governers during past 3 terms and still considered a good state?

    Bottom line is, we can even elect Michelle or Sarah and still be successful.

  24. MN Voter says:

    I voted for JO JO( my Dog )… she could do just as good of job as either of these jokers!!!!

  25. Kyle says:

    unhappy with politics; don’t let the door hit you on the way out of state and move far far away.

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