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Dayton team claims bigger gain in Minn. recount

On the second day of recounting votes in Minnesota's undecided governor's race Tuesday, Democrat Mark Dayton said internal tracking showed his lead over Republican Tom Emmer growing to nearly 9,000 votes as he gained more votes than the official tally.
Observers for both gubernatorial candidates, left, oversee the ballot recount in the Minnesota governor's race which began on Monday in Minneapolis. Democrat Mark Dayton is hoping the recount confirms his nearly 8,800-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer. More than 2.1 million votes must be recounted in a process that will run into next week.
Observers for both gubernatorial candidates, left, oversee the ballot recount in the Minnesota governor's race which began on Monday in Minneapolis. Democrat Mark Dayton is hoping the recount confirms his nearly 8,800-vote lead over Republican Tom Emmer. More than 2.1 million votes must be recounted in a process that will run into next week. Jim Mone / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

On the second day of recounting votes in Minnesota's undecided governor's race Tuesday, Democrat Mark Dayton said internal tracking showed his lead over Republican Tom Emmer growing to nearly 9,000 votes as he gained more votes than the official tally.

Figures from Dayton's recount team had him picking up 177 votes Monday, more than the 24 reported by the secretary of state's office. Election officials watched by partisans for both sides are conducting a hand recount of 2.1 million ballots in government centers and city halls across the state.

Dayton spokeswoman Denise Cardinal said her side got results from the field after the secretary of state's deadline and tracked challenged ballots based on the call of election judges at recount tables where Emmer's observers made three times as many challenges.

That's not counting challenges deemed "frivolous" by election judges for questioning sloppily filled-in ovals or other mistakes that didn't cast doubt on the voter's intent.

Emmer spokesman Carl Kuhl said his side doesn't plan to release daily tallies.

"These things change and change quickly," he said.

The numbers are gripping for election nerds who like to shuffle paper and play with spreadsheets, but they're also important to the public perception of who is gaining or losing ground. Both campaigns have organized armies of clipboard-toting volunteers to chart every challenge, building on the strategy developed in the 2008 Senate recount in the race between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman.

Dayton led Emmer by 8,770 votes before the ballots were reopened for a second look. The taxpayer-funded recount is automatic because his lead is within a half-percentage point. The goal is to finish the recount by mid-December, although a final resolution could be delayed if the loser goes to court.

Officials got through more than 947,000 ballots on the first day, from roughly 63 percent of precincts.

Challenges matter because they can temporarily keep votes out of candidate columns, distorting the numbers as the process moves along. In 2008, most of the challenges were either withdrawn later or overruled by the state canvassing board.