Local auditors say they see no errors in vote totals for race for U.S. Senate
WILLMAR -- Area county auditors have found no errors and no need to revise their election night vote totals for the U.S. Senate race. The 700-plus vote difference between Sen. Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken that was initially reported by ...
WILLMAR -- Area county auditors have found no errors and no need to revise their election night vote totals for the U.S. Senate race.
The 700-plus vote difference between Sen. Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken that was initially reported by the Secretary of State's office had shrunk to 206 votes at last report.
Numbers that were incorrectly entered in some counties and absentee ballots that were not initially counted and later found were cited as reasons for the narrowing gap in the vote count.
None of those errors happened in this region.
Seven area county auditors contacted Monday said the results they reported after the election remained unchanged after the votes were canvassed and the required precinct audits completed.
"They didn't change at all," said Faye Harms, from the Chippewa County Auditor's office in Montevideo.
"No. None," said Donna Quandt, Pope County auditor in Glenwood, when asked if the number of votes for either Coleman or Franken had changed after results were canvassed. "There were no changes to the totals."
Ditto for Renville, Meeker, Swift, Yellow Medicine and Kandiyohi counties.
"We had no changes to anything," said Sam Modderman, Kandiyohi County auditor. "Whatever was reported on the Web site remained the same. We had no problems."
The fact that problems were reported in other parts of the state had local auditors kind of scratching their heads.
Lois Bonde, Yellow Medicine County auditor, said she told her election judges last week she'd rather have accurate totals rather than fast totals.
"I just told them to be careful. They were very good. They complied," said Bond. "We had no changes. Everything was accurate."
With just 6,577 ballots to count, Quandt said perhaps it was easier to get the figures right in Pope County than in more populated areas. To make sure ballots stayed secure for the recount, they were put under lock and key and under the constant eye of the county Sheriff's Department, Quandt said.
Modderman was puzzled by, but not critical of, errors made in other parts of the state.
That puzzlement faded when he reminded himself not to assume that every county in Minnesota uses the same Election Day procedures that are common here.
"I'm not saying anything was wrong, but I don't know their process. I can't explain why it happened," he said.
In Kandiyohi County, he said, absentee ballots would not be sitting in the back of a poll worker's vehicle because a strict method for handling those ballots is carefully followed here.
As for misreporting vote tallies to the Secretary of State, Modderman said Kandiyohi County invested an extra $10,000 when it purchased the new optical scan counters to automate that process. Vote totals are downloaded from a memory card that is placed in each scanning machine. The electronic results, which are compared to print-out tallies generated by the machines, go directly to the state Web site.
Many counties don't have the memory cards and vote totals are entered by hand, which is when mistakes can happen. It's "logical" that a digit is missed when numbers are individually entered, Modderman said. "You get the human element into it."
Of the area counties contacted by the Tribune, none that hand-enter the results discovered any errors.
Most counties have not set firm dates for their recount process to begin, but some area ones are hoping to begin Nov. 19.
Teams, made up of county staff and representatives from each candidate, will examine each ballot and count it.
Challenged ballots could be ones that do not have the oval filled in but instead had the name of the candidate circled or checked or underlined, which is not read by the scanner.
The intent of the voter is all that matters, Modderman said.
At first blush, making up 204 votes seems like a deep gap to fill, but considering that means only two to three ballots per county would have to be changed after the recount, "then it doesn't seem so big," Modderman said.
Recounts are open to the public.
In Kandiyohi County a viewing area will be set up for the public to watch as the ballots are examined by the teams.