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State Rep. Mary Franson

, Star Tribune

Ballot error muddies District 8B legislative race, won by one vote

  • Article by: JENNIFER BROOKS
  • Star Tribune
  • November 20, 2012 - 10:42 AM

An election decided by a single vote may have had dozens of ballots cast in error.

State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, who won reelection by just one vote less than two weeks ago, is asking a district judge to toss out 35 ballots from precincts where residents of a neighboring legislative district apparently voted in her race by mistake. Election officials say the votes were cast in Democratic-leaning precincts that may have favored DFL challenger Bob Cunniff.

Cunniff's attorneys have filed an appeal of their own, asking a district judge to keep the ballots intact and move ahead with an end-of-the-month recount in the razor's-edge race.

Election officials in Douglas County discovered that poll workers in at least five Alexandria precincts mistakenly handed House District 8B ballots to residents of neighboring House District 12B. All the errors were reported in polling places split between voting wards.

Douglas County Auditor Charlene Rosenow said her office had reports on Election Day of voters receiving the wrong ballot, but has not yet conducted an investigation into what happened. She said the county first needs to get through the recount and that can't happen until the court rules on the disputed ballots.

Further hampering the recount, the first judge to hear the appeal recused herself Monday afternoon, citing her husband's support for Cunniff's campaign as a conflict of interest. A new hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

If the new district judge hands down a ruling Tuesday, the county board of canvassers will meet to hammer out the terms for the recount. The state canvassing board will then meet at 1 p.m. Nov. 27 to set the terms for the 8B recount, which is likely to begin Nov. 28 and continue for several days.

Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049

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