Restrain recount madness

Looming recounts in Minnesota elections are best left to the pros.

Daily Editorial Board

Even before ballots were submitted to the Office of the Secretary of State for official tallies, the word âÄúrecountâÄù was plastered all over MinnesotaâÄôs election news. To their credit, neither candidate in the too-close-to-call gubernatorial race has yet declared victory, despite Mark DaytonâÄôs 9,057-vote lead in the unofficial tally. If that tight margin holds, itâÄôs just barely enough to trigger an automatic recount under state law.
Of course, this election falls in the shadow of the lengthy, costly 2008 Senate recount between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. If 2008 was any indication, the candidates, political parties and lawyers will be relentless in pursuit of a victory.
Yet there is a difference between healthy, productive scrutiny of the public process and crying foul in order to bias public perception âÄî a process that tainted the 2008 recount and has already regrettably begun in this one. In a press conference, State GOP Chairman Tony Sutton already speculated that âÄúSomething doesnâÄôt smell right.âÄù This kind of partisan noise is not only unnecessary here, but is actively harmful to our public institutions and discourse.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and his office performed superlatively in 2008 and can be trusted to do so again. Even so, they learned from that experience and have since implemented reforms to âÄúreduce frivolous challengesâÄù and generally strengthen the integrity and efficiency of the process.
Inevitably, there will be discrepancies between unofficial tallies and certified results. There will also likely be errors uncovered, but mistakes donâÄôt equal fraud. Rather, these revelations are signs of a working system âÄî one designed to be slow and exhaustive.
In this yearâÄôs recount process, letâÄôs exercise patience and assume that MinnesotaâÄôs electoral system, which is frequently lauded as one of the best in the nation, is innocent until proven guilty.