Coleman volunteers keep eye on ballots prior to recountSupporters work to prohibit ballot tampering
James Thelen spent at least two hours sitting on a hard wooden chair in the Swift County Auditor’s office Wednesday quietly reading a copy of National Review.
By: Carolyn Lange, West Central Tribune, Worthington Daily Globe
BENSON — James Thelen spent at least two hours sitting on a hard wooden chair in the Swift County Auditor’s office Wednesday quietly reading a copy of National Review.
The longtime Republican volunteer from Benson was there to make sure no one tampered with the county’s ballots, especially the votes for Sen. Norm Coleman.
“That’s what they're worried about,” said Thelen, who responded to a call reportedly generated from Coleman’s campaign office that was filtered down through a series of volunteers.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Wednesday he learned through a news release that Coleman supporters were watching ballot box sites.
“I thought, ‘Oh, come on,’” Ritchie said. “These ballots are locked and under special care.”
Ritchie, the state’s top election official, said having partisans watching over secured ballots is “an attempt to create the impression that there’s some kind of monkey business or something funny (occurring).”
“It flies in the face of and calls into question Sen. Coleman’s very eloquent statement about his trust and belief in the election administration in this state,” Ritchie said.
Andrea Haase, another Swift County Republican Party volunteer from rural Benson, took over the post from Thelen around 1 p.m. and planned to stay until the courthouse closed at 4:30 p.m.
“You’ve got to sit right in that chair,” Thelen told Haase good-naturedly about her task. He said he hoped she had brought along something to read.
“They just want us to keep an eye on the ballot boxes to make sure there’s no tampering,” Haase said.
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