Friday, November 19, 2010

Reconciliation is UnMinnesotan

Ken Martin is trying to shame us into thinking that wanting an accurate vote count in our gubernatorial election is un-Minnesotan. He said as much in an article today regarding the petition filed by the Emmer campaign and the Republican Party of Minnesota requesting the Minnesota Supreme Court to order a reconciliation of ballots to legal voters signed in at each precinct. "What is this really about? This is about damaging the ability of our next governor, Mark Dayton, to govern in this state," said Martin, according to the Politics in MN report. He continues: "And it's wrong, it's un-Minnesotan and I don't think the voters of this state will stand for it." (see full article: )

The current chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota suffers fools far more gracefully than some others would. Ken falls squarely into this category. How can reconciling the ballots in the election do anything but HELP the next governor's ability to lead? If the election results are scrutinized to this degree, they are bound to be more accurate. If they are more accurate, they are far more credible and lend even more gravitas to the governor - whoever that turns out to be. I'll give Martin credit for some understanding of Minnesota psyche: most citizens of this state would rather be dead than be considered 'un-Minnesotan'. He's softly trying to bully the supreme court justices into going with the flow, not making waves - don't do anything so un-Minnesotan as to question the judgement of the secretary of state or county workers. I would argue that it's very un-Minnesotan to want to disenfranchise our neighbors who cast their votes legally, and it's definitely un-Minnesotan to want to leave a pall of illegitimacy hanging over the next governor by not thoroughly, properly and accurately counting the ballots in our election. Let the justices determine whether administrative rule is equal in authority to state law passed by a duly elected legislature.

The article goes on with Hamline University political science professor David Schultz suggesting that the petition will get dismissed because it's "too soon" since the election results haven't yet been certified. However, in 2008, when the Coleman recount legal team tried to raise the issue late in the recount process once they realized there were more than 30,000 extra ballots, the argument was that trying to address it at that point was too late precisely because the election results had already been certified. Generally, the earlier these concerns are raised and addressed, the better chance we have of sorting them out and getting real answers.

Lastly, the argument is raised that if extra ballots must be randomly pulled out, both Emmer and Dayton would lose votes at roughly the same rate, and could even affect down ballot races. However, the writer fails to mention that the ballots are to be pulled within their precincts. If Hennepin and Ramsey counties are the areas with the highest proportion of potential problems, then the votes will hardly be lost at the same rate. Dayton would lose a disproportionate share of the vote, by a large percentage. And here is the crux of Martin's concern. He knows that if there are, say, 12,000 extra ballots in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, given the margin of difference between the two candidates in those counties - losing those extra ballots alone could easily wipe out the lead now enjoyed by Mark Dayton. And there would be no collateral damage to the legislative victories of the house and senate Republicans.

And if the Republicans are wrong and there is no phantom vote problem? Then we will have gone a long way to proving how good our election system is, and we can all be good Minnesotans knowing that our next governor is the man truly chosen by 44% of the people.

Let the chips fall where they may, indeed.

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