Close amendment contests highlight recount rules - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Close amendment contests highlight recount rules

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With close elections like the Franken-Coleman face off and the 2010 governor's race, Minnesota has gotten pretty good at recounts -- but the two too-close-to-call constitutional amendments have slightly different rules for recounts than candidates do.

State election officials say hotly-contested issues like the marriage amendment could mean Minnesotans are in for a long election night.

When there are candidates in a close race, a recount can be triggered automatically.

"Where there is a candidate, there is someone who has lost the race -- and if the vote is in the one-half of one percent, then they are entitled to a recount and the public pays for it," explained Joe Manskey, Ramsey County election manager.

With amendments, there is no trigger, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. A voter would have to file an election contest lawsuit in Ramsey County to get a recount under way, but they would also have to pony up the cash for the recount, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The chief justice of the Supreme Court would then appoint a three-judge panel, and they would hear this lawsuit," Manskey told FOX 9 News. "Then, teams of inspectors would then count the ballots."

Manskey said that panel would probably include one judge from each side of the issue and one both sides can agree upon.

"In case one or both of the constitutional amendments are close, we're certainly making the same preparations that we do for a statewide recount," Manskey said.

However, a recount may not be in the cards. A campaign spokesperson for the 'Vote No' effort said their only focus is on defeating the amendment on Nov. 6, and the "Vote Yes" side essentially said the same thing.

"Right now, we are just focusing on giving Minnesota the right to vote and get their voices heard on the issue," said Autumn Leva, of Minnesota for Marriage. "We believe we will be loudly heard at the polls."

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