Recount shows same tallies for Biermaier, Seeger

By John McLoone and Bruce Karnick
Posted 11/22/23

A recount ordered in the election for Hastings School Board showed no change in the counts for the fourth and fifth place finishers.

The recount was sought by Matt Seeger, who placed fifth in …

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Recount shows same tallies for Biermaier, Seeger


A recount ordered in the election for Hastings School Board showed no change in the counts for the fourth and fifth place finishers.

The recount was sought by Matt Seeger, who placed fifth in the race for election of four new members to the Hastings ISD #200 Board. The recount was overseen by the Dakota County Elections Office.

The full recount of all nine races was expected to go into Tuesday, past Journal press time. However, the recount started Monday morning and in the early afternoon, it was determined that there was no change at all in the number of votes received by Philip Biermaier in the number four position and Seeger in the number five position. The vote total for those two candidates was confirmed at 3,048-3,038.

The recount then moved on to verifying votes for all nine candidates.

The initial tally showed that Jenny Wiederholt-Pine (3,340 votes), Melissa Milner (3,324), Matt Bruns (3,097) and Biermaier won election to the board over Seeger, Brandy Wentzler (2,938), Mariah Ring (2,923), Nancy Blanchard (2,480) and Pamela Onnen (1,107). There were also 45 ballots containing write-in votes.

Dakota County Elections Director Michelle Blue explained the recall process Monday.

“This is an administrative recount of the Hastings School Board member election that occurred on Nov. 7, 2023. By law, the candidate who came in fifth place in that election was eligible to request a publicly funded recount. That request was submitted to the school district last week. The school district had the authority under state law to delegate that to either the Dakota County Auditor or municipal clerk. They requested and delegated to the Dakota County Auditor, so we convened our teams of party-balanced election officials to perform a hand recount of all of the ballots in that race.”

Blue said the “party-balanced teams” also oversee the review of absentee ballots, and they were asked to come help with the Hastings recount.

“It was very easy for us to go to that resource and ask for assistance and with scheduling. We happen to be in between elections this week, and we were able to ask them to come in and serve in this election,” she said.

The recount started at 8 a.m. for the more than 6,900 ballots cast.

“We started by explaining my role as the recount official. We explained the role of the observers, the role of the candidates and their representatives, because they have legal rights to challenge,” she said. “We had the election judges swear the oath. They’ve already been sworn in but for the purposes of this process, we wanted to do it publicly and ensure that they all took the oath. We started with that, and then brought up the ballots and unsealed them all in public view,” said Blue.

A monitor showed the counts of Biermaier and Seeger.

“We started with that because that was the candidate who requested the recount. Out of respect for the candidates and seeing as the public was probably most interested in their vote count for those two candidates, we started there, and now we’re on to counting the rest of the candidates,” Blue said. “It is an administrative recount, meaning our only task at hand is counting those ballots in that contest. We don’t evaluate whether campaign finance laws were violated. We don’t go into any other questions on the ballot, whether or not the absentee ballot board accepted a ballot, that is not within the scope of this recount.”

She said that the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office estimates that it could be 2-3 ballots out of 5,000 that “are marked in a way they cannot be read by machine. That’s why we do this recount, and that’s normal. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why we do this. That’s all of the process. We do look at a ballot sometime where it might be next to the oval or it might be a checkmark instead of the entire oval filled in. That’s why we have a team of election judges review each ballot.”

In last week’s Journal article on the election, it was stated that only Bruns emailed a comment.

That was erroneous. Biermaier emailed that he was withholding comment, pending what was then a possible recount.

He emailed at that time, “I will not be making any comments, there is a recount probably going to happen. I will respect the process.”