Election officials completed the recount of the Senate District 12 contest Tuesday night and neither Republican Paul Koering nor Sen. Don Samuelson expect the outcome of Koering's Nov. 5 election victory to be reversed.
Koering won that contest by 143 votes. In the recount of Morrison and Crow Wing County ballots that was completed when Morrison County finished its tally at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday the totals for ballots both sides agreed on were: Koering, 16,376 and Samuelson, 16,273. The recount total gives Koering a 103-vote margin of victory.
However, more than 600 ballots were challenged in Crow Wing County, the majority of those because election judges did not initial ballots. Of the uninitialed ballots in Crow Wing County 349 were for Koering and 322 were for Samuelson.
GOP attorney H. Alan Kantrud said that even his calculation of the Republicans' worst-case scenario regarding challenged ballots, Koering would still be the victor.
That assessment was echoed by Scott Simmons, the head of the secretary of state's recount team. He said that Crow Wing County's election equipment counted the votes correctly.
"I don't believe those challenges will hold up," he said after the Crow Wing recount was completed at about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday.
The recount started a week ago today and was delayed last Thursday by a court order that was sought by attorneys for Samuelson. A court hearing on the Crow Wing County recount was averted when attorneys for the GOP, Samuelson and the state agreed on specific procedures for resuming the recount. Counting resumed Friday afternoon, was temporarily halted over the weekend but resumed in earnest on Monday morning.
Koering stopped by the County Service Building for the conclusion of the Crow Wing County recount. In an odd coincidence, the last precinct of the arduous recount was the St. Mathias precinct, in which the voting site is about 150 yards from Koering's home.
"I'm not worried," Koering said Tuesday. "The voters have truly spoken."
Koering said that in preparation for his Jan. 7 swearing-in ceremony he has toured the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center and met with the president of Central Lakes College.
Samuelson, contacted today, said he did not expect the outcome of the election to change but he wanted to look over the numbers and talk with his attorneys on Friday.
Kent Kaiser, a spokesperson for the secretary of state's office, said the State Canvassing Board will meet 2:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in Room 10 of the State Office Building.
Alan Weinblatt, an attorney for Samuelson, said the margin of victory for Koering has been reduced and said he wanted to study the figures before he could determine whether the outcome might remain the same or change.
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