Recount FAQ: What's next

  • Updated: November 15, 2008 - 10:53 PM

RECOUNT FAQ: WHAT'S NEXT?

THE GREAT MINNESOTA RECOUNT IS SET TO START WEDNESDAY. HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN THE NATION'S CLOSEST U.S. SENATE RACE.

First things first

The state Canvassing Board -- chaired by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and including Minnesota Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson and District Judges Kathleen Gearin and Edward Cleary -- will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the State Office Building.

The board will certify the vote. If it finds that the margin between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and DFLer Al Franken is within one-half of a percentage point -- and there's no question about that at this point -- state law requires a hand recount.

WHEN WILL IT BEGIN?

Wednesday morning -- but not every county will start then. Counties set their own schedules but must be finished by Dec. 5.

Things will get going at 45 of more than 100 locations on Wednesday and at another 26 on Thursday. Metro counties starting Wednesday include Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington. The schedule is available at www.sos.state.mn.us. (Click on "News" on the top bar.)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Election officials review each ballot for the voter's intent. If names are circled or checked, for example, those ballots will go in the proper candidate's pile. Each campaign will have a representative on hand and can challenge an official's decision on a ballot. Disputed ballots go to the Canvassing Board, which will make the call on them.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEC. 5?

After the counting is done at the various sites, the Canvassing Board will meet on Dec. 16. It will review disputed ballots and assemble a final report. The board aims to be done by Dec. 19, but will take as long as needed.

WILL THE RECOUNT BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC?

Yes, the public can observe, and can attend all Canvassing Board meetings.

WILL THE RECOUNT BE THE ULTIMATE WORD?

Not necessarily. Court challenges are possible.

DOES A RECOUNT EVER CHANGE THE OUTCOME?

Not often, but it can happen. In a four-month recount that followed Minnesota's 1962 gubernatorial election, Karl Rolvaag upended Gov. Elmer L. Andersen by 91 votes.

In the 2004 governor's race in Washington state, Republican Dino Rossi took a 681-vote lead on election night. Two recounts put Democrat Chris Gregoire in office by 133 votes.

KEVIN DUCHSCHERE

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