The Minnesota state Canvassing Board has agreed to start a hand recount of all 2.1 million votes cast in the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election between Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer. Dayton, a Democrat and former U.S. senator, leads Emmer (R) by 8,770 votes, a margin of less than one-half of one percent ... which automatically triggers a recount.
The recount begins Monday in all 87 counties and must be finished by Dec. 7. According to this plan, a winner would then be declared on Dec. 14.
Recounts of close elections are not uncommon in Minnesota, site of the famous Al Franken-Norm Coleman Senate battle of 2008 that wasn't resolved until June 30 the following year, when Coleman conceded defeat.
And, of course, who can forget the 1962 gov. race there, which Karl Rolvaag (D) won over incumbent Gov. Elmer Andersen (R) after a recount by 91 votes? I know I certainly can't.
Republicans have said that if this year's race is not resolved by Jan. 3, when the new governor is scheduled to be sworn in, outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty would stay on. Pawlenty decided to retire this year rather than seek a third term, and many expect him to pursue his party's presidential nomination for 2012.
But Emmer and the GOP suffered a defeat earlier today when the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit to reopen county election results with the likely purpose of removing questionable ballots.
St. Paul Pioneer Press' Hoppin & Orrick write of the Republicans' uphill fight:
Even if unexplained ballots are removed, Dayton's lead is large enough that if three votes were withdrawn from each of Minnesota's 4,136 precincts, six of every seven pulled votes would have to be for Dayton in order for Emmer to overcome the lead — a statistical miracle.