APPLE VALLEY, Minn. - The 2012 election season finds Ken Martin and Pat Shortridge at odds over their respective parties' candidates, but they agree on one thing. There are more lawyers and poll watchers on standby in Minnesota than ever before.
"You always have to be prepared for the next eventuality," said Shortridge, the Minnesota Republican Party Chair. "Our main focus will be the election itself, but we have got some hard learned experiences stemming out of the 2008 and 2010 elections that were very close, where we went to recounts."
Both party leaders said they have unprecedented numbers of legal and party-authorized observers on duty.
"We have hundreds of lawyers that will be fanned out across the state in precincts, making sure that peoples' right to vote is ensured," said Martin. "Then, we have a hotline at the DFL Headquarters, staffed by 20 lawyers ready to file for injunctive relief in a court of law if need be."
Poll watchers who are stationed at most polling places must have a signed letter from a party chair to have access to the voting area. They are not allowed to interfere in the election, but they can take complaints of irregularities to the election judges present. They can also make reports to county officials and their own party leaders. Basically, they are present to observe that all is on the up and up.
GOP Chair Shortridge said his party has more election judges and poll watchers than ever before, a statement echoed by the DFL's Martin.
If the polls are correct, Minnesota elections in 2012 are expected to very close contests in which even a few votes can swing an election or part of an election. All minds are on the 2008 U.S. Senate Race in which Norm Coleman and Al Franken tilted back and forth for months in recounts until Franken was finally declared the winner by only a handful of the more than 2 million votes cast.
Nationally, it is reported that more than 10,000 lawyers are on standby for the parties. Minnesota's DFL party said there are 600 attorneys geared up for Tuesday night. The Minnesota GOP would only say that they are employing more than ever before.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)