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The rules of recounts

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Here are highlights of the upcoming Minnesota's U.S. Senate race recount:

-- Every one of the 2.9 million ballots cast in the U.S. Senate race will be examined individually by local or state elections officials at 107 sites statewide.

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-- Under state law, the officials' job is to determine the candidate each voter intended to select. For instance, some voters do not fill in an oval by a candidate's name, perhaps using a check mark instead; a ballot-reading machine would not count the vote and the law requires officials in a recount to decide each voter's preferred candidate.

-- Either campaign can challenge an election official's decision about who the voter intended, which requires the ballot to be placed in a pile that eventually will be examined by the state Canvassing Board.

-- Every recounting site is open to the public, although only elections officials are allowed to touch the ballots. Campaign representatives will sit near the officials.

-- Both campaigns have said they probably will have multiple volunteers at each counting site, including lawyers.

-- By 8 p.m. each day of the recount, the secretary of state plans to update vote totals at www.sos.state.mn.us, including every precinct recounted to that point.

-- Once recounts are done, challenged ballots will be sent to St. Paul, where the five-member state Canvassing Board will examine each one beginning Dec. 16. If there are a lot of challenged ballots, that board's decisions could decide who is the next senator from Minnesota.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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