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UDPATED: Court hears Emmer ballot case

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court questioned both sides harshly about Tom Emmer's governor's race case that claims not all 4,136 precincts' election judges made sure the number of ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election matched the number of people who voted.

Chief Justice Lorie Gildea did not say when to expect a decision after justices listened to arguments from both sides this afternoon.

Emmer attorney Diane Bratvold told justices that the key to the Republican governor hopeful's case is whether local election officials followed the law election night. She said many did not follow the law, which requires election officials to compare voter signatures to the number of votes cast, then randomly remove ballots if there were too many votes.

Marc Elias, Democrat Mark Dayton's attorney, said a rule put in place by the secretary of state's office years ago fills a gap in state law and requires another document be used to compare to the ballots, one that does not include voters' signatures.

Republicans want a decision made before the State Canvassing Board meets Tuesday morning, when it is expected to order a statewide hand recount of the 2.1 million ballots cast. The recount is to end up with the board deciding the governor's race election winner on Dec. 14, but it is not known whether the Emmer case could affect that goal.

Dayton leads Emmer by 8,770 votes, close enough that a recount is mandated under state law. Emmer could turn down the recount, but said he wants it to proceed.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., parent company of the South Washington County Bulletin.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.