On Election Night, county election officials enter unofficial election results on the Office of the Secretary of State office’s website. Following Election Day, county election officials audit and proof their work to make any corrections as necessary before they canvass their results.
It is routine for election officials to discover a number of small errors, including improper data entry, transposition of digits (e.g., entering the number 48 instead of 84), and other items that affect the reported outcome. For example, in 2006 the difference between the number of votes for U.S. Senate candidates Mark Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar changed by more than 2,100 votes between the first unofficial results reported on this office’s website and the final official results reported to the State Canvassing Board.
As corrections are entered on the website by the local election officials, the statewide unofficial results are updated to reflect the changes. Each county auditor will present their final tallies to their respective county canvassing boards for approval. These reports are then sent to the Office of the Secretary of State where they are carefully reviewed and incorporated into a statewide canvass report that is presented to the State Canvassing Board.
The recount process is determined and detailed by Minnesota law. The first step in a recount process is to assemble all eligible ballots. The ballots are counted precinct by precinct within the county in which they were cast. A recount official, generally the county auditor, is designated for each county and is in charge of the room in which the recount is occurring.
Ballots are then separated into piles — one for each candidate involved in the recount, and one for all other ballots, including those cast for other candidates, those for which the voter’s intent cannot be determined, and/or those declared ineligible due to markings or other problems. All ballots within a precinct are sorted at the same time and are examined by an election official to determine the voter’s intent, in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 204C.22. Each candidate is allowed to have a representative observe the election officials sorting, and a candidate’s representative may challenge the decision of the election official.
If there is an objection to the decision being made by the election official by either one or both of the candidates’ representatives, the ballot in dispute becomes “challenged.” The recount official may decide whether or not the challenge is valid. If it is decided the challenge is valid, and if the challenge is not withdrawn, the ballot is marked as challenged and sent to the State Canvassing Board for review and decision.
Once ballots have been sorted into these piles, they are counted by election officials in stacks of 25 and the precinct’s vote count for each candidate is announced.
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