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Landmark Election Recount Bill Becomes Law in Minnesota PDF  | Print |  Email
By Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota   
May 19, 2008
Minnesota continues to improve its election transparency and accountability standards with passage of an innovative law allowing losing candidates to call for manual recounts in select precincts. Called the “partial discretionary recount,” the law believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is a cost-effective way for candidates to have the election results in specific precincts verified.  
 
The law expands on provisions of Minnesota’s recount law which provides for recounts in races within a margin of victory of 0.5%. Under the new added provision, candidates in any contest with a 5% margin of victory may call for a hand recount, at their expense, of up to three precincts. If the requested recount shows a difference greater than 0.5% compared to the Election Day results, there will be hand recounting of additional precincts. That could lead to a contest-wide recount if more disparities between the reported results and the hand counts are discovered. 
 
The requesting candidate is responsible for the initial recount expenses – unless the outcome of the race is changed by the recount. In that case, the election body that has jurisdiction over the miscounted ballots will be liable for associated costs (which is generally staff time). The financial burden often deters candidates from seeking a recount. This bill makes recounts more accessible.
 
The bill was passed unanimously by both the Minnesota House and Senate and was signed into law Saturday, May 17, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said the law is "another important incremental step in increasing voter and candidate confidence in state elections."
 
According to lead sponsor Rep. Bill Hilty (D-Finlayson), "Candidates tend to know the voting patterns in their districts. The law will provide an effective and cost-effective tool for candidates to investigate any possible anomalies or departures from past voting patterns."
 
Details of the bill were hammered out by a collaboration of county election officials, election integrity activists and Minnesota state legislators.  "Election integrity advocates in other states have expressed interest in this idea,” said Mark Halvorson, director of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota. “I predict other states will pass similar legislation within the next few years."
       
For more information visit the Minnesota Legislature web site or Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, www.ceimn.org.
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