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State Supreme Court denies Emmer petition

Posted by: Eric Roper under Minnesota campaigns Updated: November 22, 2010 - 5:01 PM

UPDATE @ 5:01: The Supreme Court has denied Tom Emmer's petition. Opinion to follow later.

The Supreme Court heard arguments this afternoon into Tom Emmer's voter-counting petition, which asks the court to delay tomorrow's certification until they can ensure there were no more votes than voters on Election Day.

Some keywords? Voter receipt, voter certificate, election register, polling roster.

Republican attorney Diane Bratvold argued that several counties improperly counted voter receipts, rather than signatures, when comparing the number of voters and ballots. That count determines how many "excess" ballots must be discarded.

The law says either "voter certificates" or signatures on the "election register" may be counted. An administrative rule, however, allows receipts to be counted. 

"The Legislature has never permitted voter receipts to substitute for the signed voter certificate," Bratvold said. "They have instead substituted the ... polling roster for the signed voter certificate. It's the signature that's crucial." 

Her argument drew some skepticism from the bench.

"You only get a receipt if you signed the register," said Justice Alan Page. "So it strikes me that the practical effect is you end up with the same number either way." 

"Aren't we really arguing about form over substance here? At the end of the day, isn't that voter's receipt simply proof of the underlying signature?" asked Justice G. Barry Anderson.

"At the end of the day ... the number of votes should be the same as the number of voters," Bratvold said. "The only way to determine that is to count the signatures on the voting register." 

Dayton attorney Marc Elias, one of many veterans of the 2008 recount in the courtroom Monday, argued that the terminology in the law is out of date -- hence why the nearly 30-year-old rule is a viable clarrification.

"This rule appears on the books. It's published, it's not secret."

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