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MN-Gov: Odds and Ends

By TJHalva | 1 point | November 19, 2010 at 7:26:09 AM CT 0 Comments

Each of Minnesota's 87 Counties were required by law to certify their general election results by last Friday, the 12th of November. These results were then, presumably, unofficially reported to the Secretary of State's Website:

CandidateVotesPercent %
Mark Dayton (D)919,21443.63
Tom Emmer (R)910,45943.21
Tom Horner (MNIP)251,48511.94

Source: Minnesota Secretary of State Unofficial Election Results at 12:00:00 AM on 11/13/2010

The vote totals, as reported on the Minnesota Secretary of State website, first reflected the above numbers on 11/9/2010 at 6:20:17 PM. Dayton's lead over Emmer sits at 8,755 votes, or 0.42%, enough to trigger the statutory recount. The margin may however change later today when the result of the post-election audit is completed as per MN Statute 206.89:


Subd. 2.Selection for review; notice. [...]

At the canvass of the state general election, the county canvassing boards must select the precincts to be reviewed by lot. Ballots counted centrally by a ballot board shall be considered one precinct eligible to be selected for purposes of this subdivision. The county canvassing board of a county with fewer than 50,000 registered voters must conduct a postelection review of a total of at least two precincts. The county canvassing board of a county with between 50,000 and 100,000 registered voters must conduct a review of a total of at least three precincts. The county canvassing board of a county with over 100,000 registered voters must conduct a review of a total of at least four precincts, or three percent of the total number of precincts in the county, whichever is greater. At least one precinct selected in each county must have had more than 150 votes cast at the general election.


Subd. 3.Scope and conduct of review. The county canvassing board shall appoint the postelection review official as defined in subdivision 1. The postelection review must be conducted of the votes cast for president or governor; United States senator; and United States representative. The postelection review official may conduct postelection review of the votes cast for additional offices.

The postelection review must be conducted in public at the location where the voted ballots have been securely stored after the state general election or at another location chosen by the county canvassing board. The postelection review official for each precinct selected must conduct the postelection review and may be assisted by election judges designated by the postelection review official for this purpose. The party balance requirement of section 204B.19 applies to election judges designated for the review. The postelection review must consist of a manual count of the ballots used in the precincts selected and must be performed in the manner provided by section 204C.21. The postelection review must be conducted in the manner provided for recounts under section 204C.361 to the extent practicable. The review must be completed no later than two days before the meeting of the state canvassing board to certify the results of the state general election.

Subd. 4.Standard of acceptable performance by voting system. A comparison of the results compiled by the voting system with the postelection review described in this section must show that the results of the electronic voting system differed by no more than one-half of one percent from the manual count of the offices reviewed. Valid votes that have been marked by the voter outside the vote targets or using a manual marking device that cannot be read by the voting system must not be included in making the determination whether the voting system has met the standard of acceptable performance for any precinct.


Subd. 6.Report of results.Upon completion of the postelection review, the postelection review official must immediately report the results to the county auditor. The county auditor must then immediately submit the results of the postelection review electronically or in writing to the secretary of state not later than two days before the State Canvassing Board meets to canvass the state general election. The secretary of state shall report the results of the postelection review at the meeting of the State Canvassing Board to canvass the state general election.

Subd. 7.Update of vote totals. If the postelection review under this section results in a change in the number of votes counted for any candidate, the revised vote totals must be incorporated in the official result from those precincts.

Source: MN Statute 206.89 via the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes

I've done my best to excerpt the important parts above, but here is essentially what you need to know about the post-election audit. Each County in Minnesota is required to randomly review a certain number of precincts within its borders to verify the accuracy of the automated ballot counting equipment. The number of votes cast in a given county determines the number of precincts that require auditing. The auditing is conducted in a manner nearly identical to that of the impending recount with the ability to challenge an election judges decision being the only difference. The purpose of the audit is to notice voting irregularities, either caused by a machine or human error. If errors of a given magnitude are discovered, the completeness of the audit is escalated to more precincts as provided by the above law.

In the 2008 Minnesota Election Audit, 298 precincts were examined containing 115,046 pre-audit-counted votes cast for US Senate; this totaled roughly 4%. From these 298 precincts, 455 additional votes were determined to have been validly cast upon human inspection and 65 votes were incorrectly counted by machine for a total aggregate error rate of 0.0555%. Due to the relatively small change in the number of votes cast as a result of 2008 post-election audit, and Dayton's current lead of 0.42%, a recount in the 2010 Gubernatorial Election has become an inevitability.

The 2010 Post Election Audit will contain at least 203 precincts; several counties did not provide a list of their randomly selected precincts. The audit must be completed by all counties two days prior to the State Canvassing Board's meeting on Tuesday, November 23rd; which, assuming business days, places the due date for today as previously noted.

The Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie (D), sensing the impending recount, recently released an updated and more detailed schedule for the upcoming recount. The document details the location for each county's recount and provides contact information about the County Auditor. The process has changed slightly from 2008 in that each precinct in a given county will conduct their recount at a county centralized location rather than in the precinct itself.

The 2010 Post Election Audit, while due today, will likely be released at the State Canvassing Board Meeting on Tuesday November 23rd at 10 AM. At this meeting, the Election Audit Results will be reconciled with the County Certified Canvass Results. Their totality will then be ratified, barring some abnormality, by the five-member Canvassing Board as the official result of the votes cast in the General Election on November 3, 2010. If at this point the margin is less than one half of one percent, and it will be, again barring some abnormality, the statutory recount will be triggered.


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