Recount: Mac students volunteer time and eyes, raffle a date in support of Al Franken

By Peter Wright

When the recount of the Minnesota senatorial race begins on Nov. 18, several Macalester students will be helping to oversee the process.MacDems Co-Chair Alex Rosselli ’10 worked as an intern for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party until the end of Election Day, a common end date for many local political interns. As DFL Campus Vote Coordinator for Macalester, he helped organize, among other things, the get-out-the-vote effort that marked the expected end of the campaign at Macalester. Now, on the other side of Election Day, he is planning to help check the ballots.

Amanda Wilson ’10, an unpaid DFL intern through Election Day, said many of her former paid coworkers have been hired to help during the recount. Wilson said that she is no longer actively involved with the DFL, but she would like to help with recounting if someone were to ask her.

“A lot of the DFL staff just got transferred over to the recount,” she said.

Because the recounting is still coming together, it is unclear what exactly the student volunteers will be doing, but it is certain that it will probably involve some level of advocacy for Democratic Senate hopeful Al Franken.

Rosselli said that each ballot will be reviewed by a state worker. His role, and the role of other campaign volunteers, will be to dispute any questionable designations from the counters on a ballot.

“We’re basically there to provide eyes for every other ballot,” Rosselli said.

Currently, counties are in the process of reaching a final tally for their ballots, a procedure that will continue until Tuesday. At that point the ballots will be handed over to the state, and that’s when the recounting will begin.

Minnesota’s race for senate has drawn national attention because it is the only senate race in the nation that has been thrown into a recount, a measure required by state law in races with a less than one percent margin. Although a recount is not unheard of in Minnesota, one for the Senate happens rarely.

“This is just another example of why every vote counts,” Rosselli said.

At press time, early Thursday morning, the results favored incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman over DFL challenger Franken by 221 votes, according to the Star Tribune. That number has fluctuated as counties count additional absentee ballots and verify some of the votes from Election Day.

“Regardless of the outcome, this is something that is needed to maintain the dignity of the electoral system,” Rosselli said.

Since recounting is projected to last into mid-December, the campaigns and the DFL are scrambling to find more money to pay staff, interns and lawyers, who will be in charge of responding to concerns registered by the volunteers.

Rosselli said that MacDems has organized two fundraisers for the Franken campaign to help with that aspect. The organization sold baked goods in the basement of the Campus Center on Thursday, along with raffle tickets for a date with MacDems officers and members.

“That was stuff we decided to do because there was nothing else we could do,” Rosselli said.

Although overseeing the counting of ballots sounds tedious, both Rosselli and Wilson said that it is exciting because of the uniqueness of the situation.

“It’s tedious work, but it doesn’t happen [often],” Wilson said. “It’s been a half a century.