Hennepin County, the state’s largest, remained the epicenter of acrimony in the recount. Emmer representatives there spent Wednesday squabbling with election officials over ballot challenges and even the number of counting tables that can be used.
For the second straight day, tempers flared in the basement of the Hennepin County Government Center over ballot challenges — made overwhelmingly by Emmer volunteers — that elections officials declared frivolous, the legal term for weak challenges.
After making more than 300 such frivolous challenges on Monday, the Emmer team stepped up the pace on Tuesday with about 900 challenges. Another 400 were issued Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,365, 95 percent of which were Emmer’s, according to Rachel Smith, the county’s elections manager. each day.
Of Smith’s complaint, that frivolous challenges are slowing the recount, Trimble said, “she doesn’t control the challengers.”
The Dayton campaign said that of the 2,776 ballot challenges Emmer workers have filed, 98.2 percent have been frivolous. By contrast, 39 Dayton challenges have been ruled frivolous, according to the campaign.
To speed things up on Wednesday, Smith asked to add three or four counting tables to the 25 already set up.
Trimble objected, saying if she did so, the campaign would take the county to court. “They can’t change the rules,” he said.
The state Republican Party also blasted Smith. In a statement, the party said Smith “tried to change the rules in the middle of game to advance the interests of Mark Dayton.”
Smith dropped her request for tables because “basically, we decided it’s not worth the fight. Of the GOP statement, she said, “we’re doing the very best we can. I don’t work for either one of the parties — I work for the people of Hennepin County.”
Dayton attorney David Lillihaug had no problem with additional counting tables. “I don’t object to anything that’ll get it done,” he said.
The State Canvassing Board announced that its members will meet Friday afternoon to discuss the issue of frivolous challenges.
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