The votes have all been counted — again — and freshman Republican Rep. Mary Franson has officially punched her return ticket to St. Paul.
Election officials finished re-tallying votes in the House District 8B race on Thursday, finding one additional vote for Franson in the process and widening her lead over Democratic candidate Bob Cunniff to 12 votes. An automatic recount was required because the margin between the candidates was less than one half of 1 percent. Cunniff conceded the race to Franson late Thursday afternoon. The State Canvasing Board will meet on Dec. 4 to certify the results.
Cunniff came in just one vote behind Franson on election night, but last week a judge ruled there were “obvious” balloting errors made in three Alexandria voting precincts. Thirty-two voters in two precincts were mistakenly given Franson-Cunniff ballots instead of ballots for a neighboring House race, and there were three more ballots submitted than names on a sign in sheet in an additional precinct. To remedy the error, the judge ordered officials to randomly pull 35 votes from the total last week, giving Franson an 11-vote edge.
Election judges are still counting ballots in another close legislative contest in Senate District 20. In that race, former DFL Sen. Kevin Dahle beat his Republican Opponent Michael Dudley by only 78 votes. Election officials expect that recount to be completed by Friday.