Coin toss still doesn’t settle Thief River Falls election contest

It’s like old times in Thief River Falls where a dispute over a mark on a ballot recalls the statewide recount in the Minnesota Senate race years ago.

There’s a mark the size of a pinhead near the name of Justen Lee, who finished the election for Thief River Falls Council with 301 votes, the same number as incumbent Jerald Brown, who won the seat after a recount last week by also winning a coin toss, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

Election authorities say the voting machine did not record a vote on the voter’s ballot of the race; they consider it an undervote, which is when someone skips a race on a ballot.

So the Council will meet in early December to decide whether a fine pin mark near the edge of the circle next to Lee’s name indicates the person intended to vote for him. All the other circles on the mystery voter’s ballot were completely filled in.

  • Jim E

    Note that the characterization of the mark being “the size of a pinhead” and the observation that all other marked ovals on the ballot in question were fully filled in comes from incumbent, won-by-a-coin-toss, Jerald Brown. He also won his City Council seat in 2012 by a single vote.

    Using the City Council as a canvassing board to decide on a contested council race, which includes an incumbent, appears like a huge conflict of interest. This seems like ideal an job for the MN Secretary of State’s Elections office.