Raymond Dehn and Terra Cole
by Tony Petrangelo
Aug 22, 2012, 7:00 AM


For the full text of the announcement from Terra Cole follow the link, as I am quoting only a part [emphasis and links in original]:

From the very beginning, this campaign has been about returning this house seat to the people in this district. For this is the people’s seat. This race was so tight, many voters, have requested a recount to ensure that their votes were indeed counted. So today, Hennepin County Elections Division notified all DFL candidates for House Seat 59B that my campaign has requested a discretionary recount of all ballots cast in the August 14th DFL Primary Election held pursuant to M.S. 204C.35 andM.R. 8235.

According to the 2012 MN Recount Guide, published by the  Minnesota Secretary of State,  A recount will not determine voter eligibility at the time of the election, the violation of campaign laws by any candidate or their endorsers, if absentee ballots were properly accepted or allow for the inspection of spoiled ballots. A recount is simply a physically recount of the ballots that were cast on the day of the election.

However, the matters outlined above can be addressed in an official Contest to the Election which is equivalent to a civil trial. A formal request for an elections contest can be filed by any person who was eligible to vote in the district on the date the election took placeThis request must be filed with Hennepin County no later than 4:30pm Wednesday August 22.

The recount will start at 10 am on Thursday, August 23,2012

Minneapolis Elections Warehouse 

732A Harding Street NE

Minneapolis MN 55413 

 This is event is open to the public.

And with that we have a recount from last Tuesdays primary after all.

In the Wrap on Sunday I made light of Terra Cole’s chances of actually prevailing in a recount, so rather than just dismiss it, let’s actually look at some past recounts for confirmation.

After the 2010 elections, besides the Gubernatorial recount, there were also three legislative recounts, in house districts 15B, 25B and 27A. These were the results of those recounts:

District Candidate Election Recount % change
15B King Banaian 5477 5480 +0.05%
Carol Lewis 5467 5467 0%
25B Kelby Woodard 8898 8903 +0.06%
David Bly 8867 8866 -0.01%
27A Rich Murray 7509 7511 +0.03%
Robin Brown 7452 7454 +0.03%

As you can see, there really isn’t that much change that occurs in a straight up recount of the votes, the largest swing in the above races was six votes in favor of Kelby Woodard.

The big difference though is that these were general elections and Kelby Woodard added six votes to the 8,898 he had already. The race that we are talking about here is a primary with a total of 2,360 votes among all three candidates.

Raymond Dehn won 876 – 857, meaning the two candidates got about 1/10th the number of votes that Woodard did. Meaning if one was to add the same percentage he did, it would be less than a vote.

If Terra Cole added five votes, as Woodard did, it would be an increase of 0.5%, or significantly more than the observed error in the above races. And that’s just for her to add five votes, to win she needs to make up 20.

The reason that there may be a perception that large shifts are possible is because of the Franken-Coleman recount. But even in that race, that actual shift, when taken in the context of the numbers of votes, was not that much. From The Big E, who has been covering this race from the outset:

To put this in perspective, Norm Coleman led Al Franken on election night by 762 votes. After the recount, Franken won by 312. That’s 1074 vote swing out of 2.88 million. That’s a vote swing of 0.04%. But Franken filed a lawsuit to dispute individual ballot eligiblity, something Cole has not done, yet.

But that 762 vote lead was the what Coleman had the day after the election. Those numbers moved in Franken’s direction as counties certified their results. Coleman’s final certified, pre-recount lead was actually 206 votes.

So the swing was only 518 votes, or 0.02%, and as The Big E points out, some of that was the result of rejected absentee ballots being included, which would only be possible under an election contest in this case.

As Terra Cole alludes to in her announcement, an election contest may be the eventual goal, it almost has to be, because the odds of the results changing due to the recount alone are too ridiculous to even talk about it as a realistic possibility.

We’re not talking about Aces getting cracked, or even hitting a one outer on the river, this is straight up getting struck by lighting territory. Terra Cole’s only real chance, in the end, is the courtroom. This is just the first step in that process.

But that’s all beside the point now, after all, we’ve got a recount on Thursday!

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