Mark Dayton picks up votes on first day of gubernatorial recount

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By the end of the first day of the recount in Minnesota’s gubernatorial race, DFLer Mark Dayton picked up 20 votes while Republican Tom Emmer lost four after less than half of ballots were recounted Monday. The Emmer team launched an aggressive campaign to challenge ballots, although many challenges were rejected as “frivolous” by election officials. The recount was not without humor, though, as some voters made some interesting write-in choices. One voter, for instance, wrote in “Who farted?” for Ramsey County Sheriff — sure to be the recount’s version of the infamous 2008 write-in candidate “Lizard People.”

The Secretary of State‘s current total in the race shows Dayton leading Emmer by 8,794 votes after the 44.65 percent of ballots have been recounted.

Emmer released a statement yesterday praising elections officials, but made no prediction on his prospects after the first day.

“First, we all need to take a moment to thank the thousands of Minnesotans, from both sides of the aisle and the nonpartisan election officials, who have taken time from their busy lives to partake in the ultimate show of civic engagement,” Emmer said. “At the day’s conclusion, Minnesotans should be proud of the open and transparent recount process on display. Minnesota deserves election integrity. We are committed to ensuring the law is followed so voters will never have to question the value of their vote.”

At a Dayton campaign press conference Monday afternoon campaign spokesman Ken Martin said, “We want there to be no doubt that who ever is the next governor of this state is viewed as the legitimate governor. That means that we can’t short-change this process during the next week to two weeks.”

Dayton’s campaign challenged far fewer ballots than Emmer’s:  86 versus 281. Those numbers do not include challenges deemed frivolous by election judges.

“We’re not in the same position as Tom Emmer,” Martin said Monday. “We don’t need to go out and challenge every ballot. What we need to do is sit back and make sure we’re advocates for Mark Dayton, that we respect this process. We don’t need to go out there and make up ground and try to challenge every ballot.”

In Renville County, Emmer challenged 423 ballots, but only one was allowed to go forward. The remaining 422 ballots are included in the recount total but have been put into a separate pile for evaluation by the state canvassing board. If the board rules those challenges to be substantiated, they will be taken out of the recount total.

A moment of levity came when Team Emmer challenged a ballot where a voter wrote in “Who farted?” for Ramsey County Sheriff, an echo of the 2008 recount’s write-in’s for candidates like “Lizard People,” the “Flying Spaghetti Monster,” and “Nickel Bag.”

Some ballots were challenged by Emmer because voters didn’t completely fill in the circle next to a candidate’s name while in other other cases the campaign argued that ballots should be counted when multiple gubernatorial candidates were marked by voters.

The Dayton campaign released several examples of Emmer challenges that were deemed frivolous by election judges on Monday (via TheUptake):