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Published November 18, 2010, 04:07 PM

Top MN Court May Weigh in on Governor's Race

The Minnesota Supreme Court took steps Thursday to weigh in on the undecided governor's race before a canvassing board meets Tuesday to order a recount.

By: Associated Press,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court took steps Thursday to weigh in on the undecided governor's race before a canvassing board meets Tuesday to order a recount.

Five of the court's seven members responded to a petition from Republican Tom Emmer questioning the integrity of election night vote-counting procedures. Emmer trails Democrat Mark Dayton by more than 8,700 votes, a small enough margin to prompt an automatic recount under state law.

The court order sets aside time on Monday to hear oral arguments on Emmer's filing, if the court determines that the hearing is needed. Justices Paul Anderson and David Stras did not participate in the order because they serve on the state canvassing board.

Emmer's filing, coordinated with the state GOP, claims that current vote totals may be inaccurate because some precincts failed to properly match up the number of ballots with the number of voters who signed login sheets. The process, called reconciliation, is supposed to happen on election night, but the petition included sworn statements from election judges saying it wasn't done correctly in some locations.

Emmer and the Republican Party are seeking a statewide review of the reconciliation process and potential adjustments to the pool of ballots.

The recount is tentatively scheduled to start Nov. 29, with possible certification of a winner by mid-December.

Local election officials across Minnesota participated in a training session via video on Thursday. State election director Gary Poser walked them through the rules and told the officials their role is largely limited to reviewing previously counted ballots, keeping order at recount sites and making sure no unauthorized people touch ballots.

"You'll recognize it's remarkably similar to what happened in the 2008 recount," Poser said, referring to the recount that kept one of Minnesota's U.S. Senate seats in limbo.

But election officials will have more power this year to limit challenges by candidate representatives thanks to changes in recount rules since the 2008 race. Ballots can't be challenged merely for having coffee stains or for containing fictional names like Mickey Mouse elsewhere on the ballots.

Poser said updated results from the hand count will be posted each evening at 8 p.m.

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