MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Ohio special election for the 12th Congressional District is receiving national coverage after Republican State Senator, Troy Balderson, claimed victory in a tight race before all the votes were counted. His opponent, Danny O’Connor, has yet to concede the race.

But just when is it safe to call an election and when is a recount automatically triggered?

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Breaking It Down

Most states have a law that requires a recount to occur if a candidate wins by only a small number of votes. In Minnesota, different categories of races have unique sets of standards for when a recount is automatically triggered and publicly funded.

Below are the requirements in each race for a publicly funded ballot recount:

Race: Difference in votes less than: 
Federal Office 0.25%
Judicial Office 0.25%
State Constitutional Office 0.25%
State Legislature 0.5%

However, if any race is so close that a candidate only wins by 10 votes or less, and the total number of votes is 400 or less, a recount is automatically performed.

Franken v. Coleman Recount

In 2008, a recount occurred in the Minnesota U.S Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. A recount was triggered after incumbent Norm Coleman led Al Franken by only 206 votes, a margin less than 0.5 percent.

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After over a month-long recount, Senator Franken was declared the winner. However, this decision was challenged again and ultimately was decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

As stated in the Supreme Court’s decision, Coleman argued that the recount was not accurate because some ballots may have been counted twice, and over 100 ballots went missing from a Minneapolis precinct when the recount was issued. The Republican also argued that the lower court erred in declining to inspect suspected fraudulent ballots.

The state Supreme Court, however, affirmed the lower court’s recount decision, and declared Al Franken the winner of the U.S Senate race.

To read the Minnesota Supreme Court’s full decision, click here. For more information on recounts in Minnesota, click here.

Safe To Call A Winner

Through analyzing polls, and looking at individual precincts, races are often called before all the ballots are counted.

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A race typically has a clear winner when a candidate is leading with a margin greater than the number of ballots left to be counted for.