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Recount set for today in contested Meeker Co., Minn., race

LITCHFIELD -- A recount of ballots for the District 2 Meeker County Commissioner seat will begin at 9 a.m. today at the courthouse in Litchfield.

The process is open to the public.

The recount was requested by longtime Meeker County Commissioner Dave Gabrielson who was declared the loser last week in the race that had initially showed a tie between himself and challenger Dale Fenrich.

The circumstances for how the winner was declared is being questioned by Gabrielson, who has threatened to file a lawsuit against the county.

County Auditor Barbara Loch said she followed state law.

On Wednesday Loch determined that Gabrielson and Fenrich had each received 1,069 votes.

But on Friday she said there was a discrepancy with the number of ballots cast in Litchfield Township.

It was determined that one voter was inadvertently given two ballots that were stuck together.

The voter marked the front side of one ballot, flipped it over and voted on the back side of the second ballot, without realizing there were two ballots.

The two ballots were put into the scanner at the same time. By the time election judges realized the problem the voter had already left the building.

Loch said she followed state law for dealing with excess ballots, which involved having an election judge randomly remove a ballot from the Litchfield Township ballot box.

The ballot that was pulled out had a vote for Gabrielson, which put meant he had one less vote than Fenrich.

Counties are not required to have an automatic hand recount of the ballots, but because of the closeness of this race, Gabrielson was allowed to request the recount and the county is responsible for paying the associated costs.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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