Tom Emmer's petition denied: Let the recount begin. [UPDATE]

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Dayton and Emmer are headed for a recount.
So much for the "strong and growing evidence" that election officials haven't counted ballots correctly, and that "phantom votes" are sullying the result of the governor's race.

It took the Minnesota Supreme Court just a few hours to reject those arguments from Republican Tom Emmer's recount legal team.

Update: Now we can get on with the automatic recount.

The State Canvassing Board met today to accept the final election results from counties across the state. Democrat Mark Dayton leads Emmer by 8,770 votes. That's within the one-half of 1 percent margin that triggers an automatic recount, which will start on Monday. The Secretary of State's plans to certify a winner on Dec. 14.

Chief Justice Lorie Gildea and Justices Alan Page, Chris Dietzen, Helen Meyer and G. Barry Anderson heard arguments. Gildea, Anderson and Dietzen were appointed to the bench by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Meyer was appointed by Jesse Ventura, and Page was elected to his seat.

Emmer's team wanted the court to order election officials across the state to go back and match the number of ballots cast in each precinct with the number of voters' signatures on the rolls, and they wanted the work done before the State Canvassing Board met today. Anything less breaks state law, they argued.

But that's not true. An administrative rule set in place decades ago by the Secretary of State's office gives local election officials an alternative method for comparing the number of voters to the number of votes cast. They can compare the final vote tally to the number of recorded ballot receipts instead, and in some precincts, election officials followed the optional administrative rule.

"It strikes me that the practical effect is you end up with the same number either way," Justice Alan Page said from the bench.

Or, as Justice G. Barry Anderson asked, isn't that voter's receipt simply proof of the underlying signature?"

It seemed OK with Emmer on Election Day. KARE 11 carried stock footage of the candidate smiling with his ballot receipt as he got ready to cast his vote.

Emmer's lawyers said in their original petition that they intended to petition the State Canvassing Board with the same request for signature counts across the state, even though the State Canvassing Board does not have authority over local election officials. WQe'll see if they follow through, or find another way to challenge Dayton's lead via the courts.

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