Benanav concedes St. Paul mayoral election

by Tom Ford

After reviewing the most recent election data, Jay Benanav conceded the St. Paul mayoral election to Randy Kelly on Tuesday.

But Benanav said the new tabulations indicate significant voting errors, and he called on the people of St. Paul to demand reforms in the Ramsey County election system.

“I have decided not to request or challenge this election in court,” Benanav said.

However, he said, the discrepancies he had questioned remain unresolved.

Ben Goldfarb, Benanav’s campaign manager, said approximately 700 votes are still in question. He said there were 217 undervotes – ballots on which no vote for mayor was recorded. Goldfarb also said the numbers of voters and votes counted did not correspond in 78 of 119 St. Paul precincts. He said there were 561 discrepancies in those precincts.

While the total number of errors is almost twice Kelly’s 403-vote victory margin, Benanav said a recount or challenge would not correct the problems.

“I believe that neither of these two remedies will resolve this situation in a definitive or timely manner,” he said.

To reverse the election results through a court challenge, Benanav said, it would be necessary to prove fraud, which he has not alleged.

The St. Paul City Council member said the election system is broken and must be immediately mended to “restore public confidence in our voting processes.

“It seems to me there should be the same number of votes as there are people who sign in,” he said.

Joe Manksy, Ramsey County’s election director, said discrepancies normally happen in every election.

He said problems of not fully accounting for voters who register on election day or send in absentee ballots occur because of human error. Those errors would not affect the total vote count because actual ballots were accurately counted by machine, Mansky said.

Although discrepancies are always a concern, they are typically ignored in races with large margins, Mansky said.

Ryan Kelly, campaign manager for Randy Kelly, said the camp is pleased with Benanav’s decision. The people of St. Paul have spoken, he said, and their choice was clear.