After Minnesota took eight excruciating months to decide that Al Franken had beaten Norm Coleman in the 2008 U.S. Senate race, followed by the close (but not nearly as close as Coleman-Franken) 2010 gubernatorial race which resulted in a recount and raised the possibility that no winner would be sworn in on inauguration day, Minnesotans may feel a little cursed, a little shell-shocked and occasionally wondering what the rest of the country thinks is wrong with us election-wise. Those two experiences do suggest that – contrary to its national reputation as a solid blue state – Minnesota is very evenly divided politically in state races. But to those who understand the law and mechanics of elections, the two recounts also showed the Minnesota is a national model in the nuts and bolts of running elections and, when the elections are very close, running recounts that that inspire trust. At least that was the overwhelming sense of a panel of election experts that met yesterday at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School.
Ned Foley, a law professor at Moritz College of Law (that’s at Ohio State University) is a top election law expert who is directing a national program for the American Law Institute to develop model laws and practices for states around the country. At yesterday’s panel, Foley – who closely followed the recent Minnesota recounts – said that Minnesota did a great job on both recounts and at every level, from the work of the local election officials to the ability of the state court system to reach unanimous verdicts on the major questions that arose, despite the presence of judges with both DFL and Republican backgrounds.
Coming from Ohio – where Foley said each of the last four election cycles has produced litigation challenging the legitimacy of the outcomes and where public confidence in the fairness of the process is justifiably low – he was particularly impressed with Minnesota’s ability to produce results that “had legitimacy,” “deserved public respect and trust,” and demonstrated an overriding value on leaving the electorate with confidence that democracy had worked.
Full Article: Minnesota’s election system after two recounts | MinnPost.