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Recount central: Wenner requests recount of county board ballots

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A flurry of activity took place in the Douglas County Commissioners Meeting Room on Wednesday morning after a recount began in the House District 8B race between Mary Franson and Bob Cunniff. (Photo by Al Edenloff)3 / 3

Douglas County is recount central this year.

Political observers know about a state House recount (see related story), but there also will be one for the Douglas County Commissioner District 5 race between incumbent Dan Olson and Carol Wenner.

Olson appeared to be the winner on election night by an 18-vote margin, 1,534 to 1,516.

Then came the race for House District 8B between incumbent Republican Mary Franson and DFLer Bob Cunniff, which was even closer, with Franson winning by one vote.

When local election officials were certifying the results, they came across errors, a total of 35 over-votes, in three Alexandria polling places. Two of them happened to be in commissioner District 5 - Ward 3 and Ward 5, precinct 2.

A judge ordered 35 ballots to be removed at random from the precincts where the over-votes were found, which is the remedy for such situations under state law.

Results in other elections also were affected, including the District 5 commissioner race. The new totals put Olson ahead by 20 votes, 1,531 to 1,511. There were 17 write-in votes.

The Douglas County auditor's office received a written request from Wenner on Monday to re-count the commissioner ballots.

When contacted by the newspaper about why she decided to pursue a recount, Wenner said, "I feel that it is important to do the recount to cast out any doubt about the outcome for me and the folks in District 5. It will help me bring closure to my campaign and it will also be a great learning experience in the election process."

Wenner thanked her supporters and added that she takes pride in the fact that nearly half of the voters believed in her ability to lead the county.

The commissioner recount will take place Friday, December 7 at 9 a.m. in Conference Room E on the first floor of the Douglas County Courthouse. The recount is open to the public.

All three precincts will be re-counted - Ward 3, Ward 4 and Ward 5, precinct 2. Here's how the vote totals in those precincts stand right now:

Ward 3: Olson 575, Wenner 635.

Ward 4: Olson 532, Wenner 500.

Ward 5, precinct 2: Olson 424, Wenner 376.

Char Rosenow, Douglas County auditor/treasurer, will serve as the recount official with Vicki Doehling and/or Tara Anderson serving as the assistant recount official.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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