A Douglas County court has ordered election officials to discard 35 ballots before they begin their recount of a state House race that is hanging by a single vote.

There were "obvious errors" at three voting wards in Alexandria that led to residents of a neighboring legislative district apparently getting ballots for the House race in District 8B, District Judge David Battey concluded Tuesday. Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, won that election by a single vote over DFL challenger Bob Cunniff.

All the ballot mix-ups were discovered in precincts split between House District 8B and neighboring 12B.

"While the remedy in this situation may not be the ideal situation to the problem, the Court notes that it has limited options," Battey wrote. "Although it can reasonably be argued that the discrepancy in votes resulted from errors in the administration of the election or the distribution of ballots, the Court finds that the discrepancy ultimately resulted in counting and recording errors."

The solution, under Minnesota statute, will be to discard 35 random ballots to compensate for the 35 that were cast in error. Franson's attorneys were pushing for the ballots to be discarded. Cunniff's attorneys decried "the disenfranchisement of dozens of voters" and argued that the errors in this case should not trigger the removal of ballots.

The recount is set to begin Nov. 28 and run for several days.

Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049