GOP taking ‘aggressive approach’ to Dayton-Emmer recount

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The Republican Party of Minnesota is promising an “aggressive approach” to the recount between Republican Tom Emmer and DFLer Mark Dayton in the race for governor. On Tuesday, the GOP announced it has hired former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson for the recount process. Magnuson sat on the State Canvassing Board during the Franken-Coleman recount. The local party is also collecting information from GOP activists on “irregularities,” while at least one national Republican has started a misinformation campaign directed at Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. 

In a series of emails to activists, the Minnesota GOP asked for reports of irregularities at polling places.

“We need your help. Did you notice any irregularities in your precinct on election day?” said an email. The things the party is looking for include: “Military ballot difficulties, Absentee ballot voting difficulties (either in application or voting process), Same day registrations / busses arriving at polling places, Excessive vouching, Machine malfunctions / jams, Unsecured ballots, Persons with more than one ballot, Unauthorized persons ‘assisting’ voters in filling out ballots, Failure of election officials to properly establish voter registration (including improper identification, failure to check residency status, etc.), Campaigning in the polling place, Unauthorized persons in the polling place, Voter intimidation inside/outside of polling place.”

Another email asked: “Was your absentee ballot counted? If you are a Republican activist and voted absentee, we want to ensure that your ballot was counted.” The party asked activists to check on the Secretary of State website to see if their votes were counted.

The party has set up a recount hotline for GOP activists and voters.

The GOP is also looking for volunteers to monitor the recount.

“Under the leadership of State Chair Tony Sutton, we are taking an aggressive approach to this recount. We are currently seeking individuals (attorneys and non-attorneys) to participate in this recount effort,” said an email to party activists.

“These individuals will be responsible for monitoring the counting of ballots at each location and various duties as needed. The actual counting will be done by the county auditor and each campaign has the opportunity to have an individual(s) observe to ensure the integrity of the process. We are looking for both Minnesota residents and non-residents.”

On Tuesday, the party announced a major ‘get’ in their recount arsenal: former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson. Magnuson was one of the impartial judges that comprised the State Canvasing Board charged with handling the recount process.

Magnuson announced his retirement earlier this year and may now eschew his former impartiality and join the litigation team for Emmer and the GOP.

While the local party engages on its “aggressive approach,” national Republican groups are working to cast doubt over the election results.

Michael Thielen, executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), penned an article in The Hill on Monday claiming that felon voters tipped the 2008 election to Sen. Al Franken and that Ritchie will somehow use his influence to tip the recount toward Dayton.

“Time and again, while Ritchie has packaged his actions under a façade of Minnesota nice, they are those of a fierce partisan who uses his official position to manipulate the process in favor of candidates from his own party,” wrote Thielen. “[T]here were more illegal felon votes than the margin of victory [for Franken], which is true when you look at just two counties, for example, Hennepin and Ramsey County where there are a total of 341.”

In fact, fewer than 80 people have been charged with voting while on probation in Hennepin and Ramsey counties and even fewer have been convicted. The 341 figure comes from unverified numbers being distributed by Minnesota Majority, a conservative group founded in part by former Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer.