Let the process happen

By Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

A statewide election between a Republican incumbent and DFL challenger featured changing vote totals that moved up and down, seemingly by the hour, resulting in a recount.

No, not last week, this happened in 1962 when incumbent Republican Elmer L. Anderson was defeated in his reelection bid by DFL candidate Karl Rolvaag. A recount determined the difference to be 91 votes out of 1.3 million votes cast. During the recount both sides had legions of lawyers watching every move made by election officials, ballots were challenged and the results were not made official until 139 days after the election.

Two New Prague attorneys were in the middle of the recount. C.L. Nelson and John M. Fitzgerald, then a state representative, worked on the Rolvaag recount team. Fitzgerald himself lost his legislative seat that year in a recount, by 11 votes, but Rolvaag showed Fitzgerald his gratitude for the recount effort by appointing Fitzgerald a district court judge, a position he would hold for more than 30 years.

Just like 46 years ago, this year's recount will be a long, drawn-out process, though hopefully not 139 days long. Election judges will go over each of the more than 2 million votes cast, often with two people looking over their shoulder ready to contest any questionable vote. The results will, no doubt, be close.

But it is irresponsible to claim, as some already have, that massive voter fraud and election fraud have taken place before the process has even started. All that does is call the process into question before it even begins.

Both sides will, and should, keep a close eye on the process. Both sides are expected to advocate that judges follow the rules in how to count votes. Minnesota is not Florida, or Illinois. It has a tradition of clean, fair elections. Unless there is concrete evidence of fraud - not token innuendoes - both sides should let the process run its course.

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