Other Opinions: Be patient, let process do recount
The election is over -- except for one race, the one race in Minnesota that has been the most contentious and embittered for months.
A recount will be needed to settle the case between incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Norm Coleman and his Democratic challenger, Al Franken. As counties continue to adjust their numbers up until the Nov. 18 State Canvassing Board meeting where the election will be certified, Coleman's edge keeps evaporating. As of Thursday night, Coleman led by only 236 votes -- out of more than 2.9 million ballots cast.
Sen. Coleman was premature at best when on Wednesday he proclaimed himself winner of the race, something that officially can't be declared until the State Canvassing Board formally certifies the winners. In this case, state law mandates an automatic state-paid recount whenever the difference between candidates is less than 0.5 percent. Coleman so far has 41.99 percent to Franken's 41.98 percent. Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley is out of the picture, although arguments will remain over who he took votes from -- Coleman or Franken.
With such a flux and tiny margin of between 200 and 300 votes out of 2.9 million, Coleman's request Wednesday that Franken "save the taxpayers' money" by conceding and stopping a recount was disingenuous and disrespectful to both Franken and to Minnesota voters. Yet it was indicative of the back and forth battle the men have waged.
We hope both campaigns just step back, observe and participate in the eventual recount and accept whatever results arise. Minnesota voters do not want to see the vitriolic exchange between these two candidates continue.
Minnesota's voting process is top-notch, and we put faith in the process. Unlike Florida's hanging chads or Ohio's mystery machines, Minnesota's system of electronic voting, backed up by retaining a written ballot, is a reason why a recount can proceed with manually counted ballots matching totals reached with the optical scanner. As a rule, both methods nearly match, showing that our process works. Still, with such a narrow margin, it's good to eyeball the results and double-check them with a manual count.
Unfortunately, that count will go into December. While encouraging both campaigns to participate, we also warn them not to obstruct the process, or frivolously challenge ballots for the sake of building a lawsuit.
After all the hoopla of the past six months, the last thing Minnesotans want is to have our next U.S. senator chosen by either the courts or the U.S. Senate. We all need to be patient and let the process do its work. -- Bemidji Pioneer