Governor’s recount: a tale of one diligent county auditor’s search for one missing vote

December 2, 2010

By Jay Weiner , Minn Post

One vote was missing. Wayne Stein couldn’t bear it.

Out of 25,178 votes cast on Election Day, a lone ballot was absent when the good folks in Otter Tail County concluded their governor’s recount Monday. The recounted piles for DFLer Mark Dayton, Republican Tom Emmer, “others” and challenges added up to 25,177.

The ballot seemingly gone poof was from Sverdrup Township, in which 289 votes were recounted, but 290 were cast on Nov. 2.

More maddening was this: The recount for the two major candidates produced the same results as the election machines: 147 for Emmer, 114 for Dayton. But the “others” pile was off by one.

So, the shortage would have no effect on the outcome of the governor’s race.

Still, it gnawed at Stein, Otter Tail County’s auditor for the past 20 years, an accountant by profession, a former staffer under former State Auditor Arne Carlson. It bothered him big-time.

“I take it kind of personal,” Stein said of the discrepancy. “It’s just my personality.”

He sent two staffers to the ballot storage room to search for a possible wayward sealed envelope. Perhaps one ballot had been put in an envelope by itself. The staffers found nothing.

Stein perused the incident log from the Sverdrup precinct. Zippo.

He called an election judge on site in that precinct on Election Day. She had no explanation.


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