Judge gives Sparks five-vote win

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 6, 2003

A judge ruled this afternoon that Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, will lose the eight burned ballots awarded to him by the State Canvassing Board, but is still the winner of the District 27 Senate election by five votes.

The canvassing board had counted eight of the 17 ballots, burned by an Austin election judge, for Sparks, giving him an 11-vote margin of victory. But Anoka County Judge Joseph Quinn, after hearing two days of testimony, ruled today that none of the 17 would be counted.

However, after examining 32 disputed ballots, he awarded two more votes to Sparks, for a final margin of five votes more than incumbent Grace Schwab, R-Albert Lea.

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Election-night returns had Sparks defeating Schwab by 33 votes; a recount, during which the 17 missing ballots were uncovered, narrowed the margin to three votes before the canvassing board’s decision made it an 11-vote difference.

Austin resident Tom Purcell, who contested the election results, has 10 days to file an appeal.