Mitchell is on top after vote-counting error fixed
St. Louis County still doesn't know who its county attorney will be in January. A misreading of a vote total might have led to erroneous reports that Melanie Ford ousted long-time St. Louis County Attorney Alan Mitchell from office. Paul Tynjala, St.
St. Louis County still doesn't know who its county attorney will be in January.
A misreading of a vote total might have led to erroneous reports that Melanie Ford ousted long-time St. Louis County Attorney Alan Mitchell from office.
Paul Tynjala, St. Louis County director of elections, said Wednesday that 553 votes Mitchell received from one Duluth precinct were recorded as 53 votes and reported to the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. Adding those 500 votes to Mitchell's total gives him 39,951 votes to Ford's 39,818. He said his staff is in the process of double-checking the vote totals and will be doing a triple-check.
If the unofficial results now listed on the Minnesota Secretary of State's Web site are correct, Mitchell has won his eighth term as county attorney.
"We don't want to declare any winners," Tynjala said. "These are unofficial. We're not declaring anything until tomorrow [Thursday] night when we will be finishing our canvass report."
St. Louis County Auditor Don Dicklich said the results won't be official until the canvass board meets on Monday and then forwards the totals to the Secretary of State's office.
"I would hope that they get the recount done and decide who is holding the office so that person can move forward," Mitchell said Wednesday evening.
"This was just a data entry error," Dicklich said. "Just one of those things that happened around 4:20 in the morning. This is part of the regular process and that's a good thing. We have a good, solid process that prevents errors."
Mitchell, 61, of rural Hibbing, said even when it looked as though he lost, he had no intention of asking for a recount. "The people had voted and if they were looking for a change, that was acceptable to me."
Mitchell said he didn't regret waiting to campaign until Labor Day, while Ford campaigned throughout the summer.
"No, sir. Win or lose, I have no regrets," he said. "I think I've done a good job for the county and this office for the past 28 years, and I wasn't going to be looking back on what happened."
Mitchell, elected county attorney in 1978 and re-elected six times without opposition, said he wasn't surprised by the slim margin in the race.
"She had been working very hard for a very long period of time," Mitchell said Wednesday. "In these local elections, you don't have a lot of access to the people and that legwork gets you familiarized to the people who go out and vote."
Ford, 51, of Normanna Township estimated that she traveled almost 10,000 miles around the county since announcing her candidacy in May. She has 650 lawn signs and said she has visited every city in the county while attending numerous community events, fairs and parades.
Ford based her campaign on a need for change, alleging that Mitchell's office hasn't been receptive to the needs of all of its citizens, something Mitchell denied.
Ford said she slept only from 3:30 to 6 a.m. Wednesday. "It was a slow night and the reports were coming in slowly," she said. "It was kind of hard to stay awake."
She heard she had won the race at 10:34 a.m., when the Secretary of State's Web site showed her winning, with 100 percent of the votes totaled.
Kent Kaiser, communications director for the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, pointed out that his office's Web page notes that the voting results are unofficial.
"On our Web site, we say it's unofficial results until they do the double-check of the numbers and do the local canvassing board; it's good that they double-check," Kaiser said.