Dayton transition, Emmer court case go on at same time
ST. PAUL -- Tom Emmer's ballot complaint got the Minnesota Supreme Court's attention Thursday while Mark Dayton ramped up his preparations to become governor.
Supreme Court justices Thursday said they want to hear from all affected parties in the Emmer case by the end of today, and may schedule a Monday afternoon hearing that could result in election officials throwing out some ballots before a governor's race recount begins.
Republican governor candidate Emmer on Wednesday signed a petition asking the court to require elections officials from Minnesota's 4,136 precincts to make sure the number of ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election matches the number of voters. Republican officials and Emmer said the two numbers were not reconciled in every precinct on election night, as state law requires, and said they fear there are more votes than there were voters.
"We don't want phantom votes to be counted," GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said.
Mark Dayton, who leads Emmer in the governor's race, called the action strange. His recount chief said Republicans are trying to delay a recount.
The law requires ballots to be randomly removed if more votes are cast than there were voters in a precinct. Emmer said that should happen before a statewide hand recount of all 2.1 million votes. The State Canvassing Board next week is expected to order the recount to begin on Nov. 29.
Thursday's court order indicated that justices David Stras and Paul Anderson were not involved in the case. They sit on the State Canvassing Board, which will be in charge of a recount.
A recount is expected because the 8,755-vote lead that Democrat Dayton has over Emmer in the country's only undecided governor's race falls within the margin for a mandated state-funded recount. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie expects to have the recount completed by Dec. 14, but the trailing candidate still could take the election to court and stretch out the proceedings for months.
Even as Emmer went to court and a recount was set to begin, Dayton and running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon announced they established a new Web site to accept applications from Minnesotans interested in being part of their administration.
In a Wednesday interview, Emmer said he was not emphasizing a transition effort, but still was proceeding with it in case the votes flip and he does become governor. Emmer said he will not pick commissioners or other key aides for the time being.
Dayton is looking ahead to Jan. 3, when the next governor is supposed to be sworn in.
The website, www.daytontransition.org, asks Minnesotans for policy ideas as well as offering an online application form to be part of a Dayton administration.
"Gov. (Rudy) Perpich had a sign in his office that read, 'None of us are as smart as all of us,'" Dayton said. "We all share in the same future, and I will welcome ideas from everyone in every corner of the state to help make a better Minnesota."
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.