Recount should be fast, fair and apolitical

Having gone through eight months of recount drama after the 2008 election, we'd like to offer this reminder: The Minnesota gubernatorial campaign is over, and a recount is supposed to be an administrative matter, not a partisan battle. 

To their credit, both Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer have taken the high road thus far. Dayton hasn't declared victory; rather, he said a recount is "entirely appropriate to ensure that the will of the voters will be fulfilled properly and accurately."

Emmer has had little to say beyond the need to make sure "all valid votes are counted and the will of the voters is met."

But not everyone is playing nice. Indeed, the drama that's about to unfold might go down in history as "Recount II: The Wrath of Tony Sutton."  The chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party clearly holds a grudge about the outcome Al Franken/Norm Coleman recount, and this time he began lobbing verbal grenades before the final votes had been tallied Wednesday morning.

Among his incendiary statements:



• "We're not going to be rolled this time."

• "Something doesn't smell right."

• "We're not going to get out-lawyered."

He's making two implications: Coleman lost because Franken had a slick legal team, and Dayton is ahead because of fraud or incompetent election judges — or perhaps both.

As Minnesotans — and as an editorial board that endorsed neither candidate —  we take offense at the notion that our election system is inept or corrupt. Yes, someone pushed the wrong button in Hennepin County on Tuesday night, but that error was quickly detected and corrected. No election involving millions of voters is ever going to be glitch-free, because voting and tabulating results involve interactions between human beings and computer technology. Errors will happen. That's why there are rules mandating an automatic recount in tight races.

Sutton should stop acting as if Dayton and the DFL are disputing the need to give the ballots a second look. They aren't. And if Sutton is grandstanding for the cameras, he should realize that this recount won't command the nation's attention. The balance of power in the U.S. Senate doesn't hang in the balance this time.

But more importantly, we ask Sutton to tone down his rhetoric because Minnesota needs this process to play out quickly and with a minimum of legal wrangling and political posturing. We need a governor, not someone who is merely keeping the seat warm while he prepares to run for president. And we certainly don't want a situation in which legislators have an incentive to rush bills through the House and Senate in a race to get new laws signed before the next governor takes office. 


There is no reason for this recount to be a drawn-out affair. We should have learned something in 2008, and there are roughly one-fourth the number of disallowed ballots this time around. When it becomes apparent that one man has an insurmountable lead, we hope that the other will have the decency to recognize the will of the voters and say "Congratulations, Mr. Governor."

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