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Court may hear vote testimony Monday

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court today said it may listen to attorneys Monday argue Tom Emmer' request that could throw out some ballots before a governor's race recount begins.

Justice Alan Page signed an order today requiring all paperwork to be filed with the high court by 4 p.m. Friday. A hearing will be held at 2:30 p.m. Monday if needed, Page wrote.

Republican candidate Emmer on Wednesday signed a petition asking that the court require elections officials from Minnesota's 4,136 precincts to make sure the number of ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election matches the number of voters. Republican officials and Emmer said the two numbers were not reconciled in every precinct on election night, as state law requires and said they fear there are more votes than there were voters.

"We don't want phantom votes to be counted," GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said.

The law requires ballots to be randomly removed if more votes are cast than there were voters in a precinct. Emmer said that should happen before a statewide hand recount of all 2.1 million votes. The recount is scheduled to be ordered on Tuesday and to begin on Nov. 29.

Today's court order indicated that justices David Stras and Paul Anderson did not take part in the decision. They sit on the State Canvassing Board, which will be in charge of a recount.

A recount is expected because the 8,755-vote lead that Democrat Mark Dayton has over Emmer in the country's only undecided governor's race falls within the margin for a mandated state-funded recount. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie expects to have the recount completed by Dec. 14, but the trailing candidate still could take the election to court and stretch out the proceedings for months.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., the parent company of the Woodbury Bulletin.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.