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Editorial: Recount is for sake of all citizens of the state

Minnesota citizens, for the second election in a row, face a recount of a statewide race -- this time in the governor's race between Democrat nominee Mark Dayton and Republican nominee Tom Emmer.

As of Friday afternoon, unofficial results on the Secretary of State's Web site showed Dayton still leading Emmer by 8,755.

This lead size, if confirmed by the official count, is within the limit set by state law requiring a recount. The Secretary of State's office released a schedule Friday setting up the recount timetable.

All Minnesota's citizens -- Republicans, Democrats, independents and even those who didn't vote -- have the need and the right under state law for the voters' intention -- whatever it is -- in this election to be confirmed.

The reality of Dayton's lead, if confirmed by the recount, is it would be a narrow win. The reality for Emmer is he has a very steep hill to climb to overcome his opponent's lead in this election.

First and foremost, Minnesota elections have been historically fair. The elections are not run as loose or corruptly as they reportedly are in Chicago or Florida.

Second, the Dayton lead, while within the recount limit, is frankly quite significant numerically.

In the 2008 recount battle between Al Franken and Norm Coleman, the initial unofficial election lead for Coleman was 215, the vote review came with a Franken lead of 49 and in the final recount Franken's lead grew to 264. Overall, the vote swing was fewer than 500 in the Franken-Coleman recount.

In addition, the absentee ballot rejections in the 2010 election were only about 3,000, far less than the 12,000-plus rejected initially in the 2008 election. If all 3,000 absentee ballot rejections in this election are ruled in Emmer's fail, he would still need another 5,756 votes to be changed his way to build a one-vote lead.

Historically, recount vote changes amount in the hundreds, not in the thousands that are needed here for Emmer to build that single-digit lead.

Dayton's current unofficial lead is 8,755. It would take an average vote change of 100 votes in each of Minnesota's 87 counties plus at least 56 mores votes for Emmer to achieve an election victory in this race.

Such a lead change is not numerically impossible, but most election experts say it is not likely based upon recount history in Minnesota.

Third, the Emmer campaign faces this political challenge -- at some point Minnesota citizens will tire of a continued election battle, just as they did in 2008. In the later stages of Coleman-Franken recount battle in 2009, Coleman's campaign saw a growing citizen dissatisfaction over the extended recount.

At some point in the future, Emmer and his campaign will face the same issue.

The primary goal of this recount for all Minnesotan's is to confirm the intent of voters in this governor election -- Dayton or Emmer.

Then Minnesota and its politicians should move on to govern and start their preparations for the next political battle.