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Editorial: Much smoother recount this time around

The best thing about the recount of Minnesota's governor election is that it has been a rather dull story. That's good news. Unlike the bitterness and heat that erupted two years ago during the recount of the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, the recount of the election for governor between Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer has been mostly civil and workmanlike.

Several factors made the difference.

First, the nearly 9,000-vote margin between Dayton and Emmer (Dayton is ahead) is far larger than the number of votes that separated Coleman and Franken. In the Senate recount, every single recounted vote could have changed the outcome. Not so in the Dayton-Emmer race. The examination of ballots is nowhere near as intense as it was two years ago in part because the arithmetic overwhelmingly favors Dayton.

Second, the drawn-out Senate recount stimulated election regulators to improve recount procedures. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and others endorsed changes that have helped streamline and focus the process. The recount has gone extremely well in most counties, even where there have been more ballot challenges than expected.

Finally, Dayton and Emmer have conducted themselves honorably. Emmer in particular has been quick to distance himself from some people in his party who apparently want to fight for every ballot, even if it means using the courts to delay a final outcome. Given the latest numbers, Emmer likely sees no benefit in tilting at windmills.

That being said, a court challenge is not out of the picture. Politics, being what it is, might drive Emmer's bus, even if he is not in the driver's seat. Minnesotans would be better served if the recount were certified, a new governor sworn in, and the business of governing a state in deep budget trouble gets under way.