One Recount Is Not Enough

By Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press

Douglas County is recount central this year.

Political observers know about a state House recount, but there also will be one for the Douglas County Commissioner District 5 race between incumbent Dan Olson and Carol Wenner.

Olson appeared to be the winner on election night by an 18-vote margin, 1,534 to 1,516.

Then came the race for House District 8B between incumbent Republican Mary Franson and DFLer Bob Cunniff, which was even closer, with Franson winning by one vote.

When local election officials were certifying the results, they came across errors, a total of 35 over-votes, in three Alexandria polling places. Thirty-two of the over-votes occurred when voters were given the wrong ballot, allowing them to vote in the Franson-Cunniff race when they should have voted in the House District 12B race. The three other over-votes happened in Ward 3; the cause of that error is not known.

A judge ordered 35 ballots to be removed at random from the affected precincts to balance the number of votes, a procedure in state law. This padded Franson’s lead to 11, but the outcome is still close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

When the ballots were removed, results in other elections also were affected, including the commissioner race because it includes two of the polling places where over-votes were found.

The new totals put Olson ahead by 20 votes, 1,531 to 1,511. There were 17 write-in votes.

The Douglas County auditor’s office received a written request to re-count the commissioner ballots.

This commissioner recount will take place Dec. 7. The House recount begins Wednesday and the State Canvassing Board is to certify a winner Dec. 4.