The Minnesota Senate Race: Self-Parody in the Coleman Camp
by CA Pol Junkie
We've needed a program to keep up with the 2009 Senate shuffle. We welcomed newly elected Democrats Begich (AK), Udall (CO), Hagan (NC), Shaheen (NH), Udall (NM), Merkley (OR), and Warner (VA). Then we had the endless drama-filled swaps of Kaufman for Biden, Burris for Obama, Bennet for Salazar, and Gillibrand for Clinton. Still, we aren't yet back to that familiar number 100. For that we have to thank Minnesota election law, which lets the loser delay the certification of a winner in their Senate race.
The loser in question is, of course, Norm Coleman. He lost to Al Franken by 225 votes after a thorough recount which took two months to resolve. Coleman chose to contest the election because... well I forget the reason applicable to a Wednesday when the moon is in a waxing crescent. The election contest trial got going this week, and The Uptake has had live video of the follies.
The crux of the arguments in court have been about rejected absentee ballots. There are four reasons for absentee ballots to be rejected in Minnesota: the voter or their witness isn't registered, the address of the voter or witness on the absentee ballot envelope doesn't match the address in the voter registration database, the voter voted at the polls, or the signature on the ballot doesn't match the signature of the absentee ballot application. The process is burdensome, but that's the law as it was on November 4th.
On Monday, Coleman had a large quantity of their evidence thrown out because their copies of rejected absentee ballot envelopes were doctored.
On Tuesday, one of Coleman's witnesses admitted on direct examination (yes, under the questioning of Coleman's lawyer) that his absentee ballot application was signed under his name by his girlfriend. Gee, I wonder why the election officials thought the signature on his ballot didn't match the signature on the application?
Today, the Franken attorneys made their case that the Coleman strategy is one of invited error. That basically means that after they argued before the court that wrongfully rejected absentee ballots should not be counted, then embraced the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that only some be counted, they can't come back and say they want
654 12,000 5,000 5,500 more ballots counted.
Coleman's basic problem is that he doesn't have a case. His attorneys are hoping to find something as they go along. The problem is that they can't find major irregularities in the recount, much less problems which would favor Coleman. The Election Contest Court has been very patient thus far, so we could be in for weeks of the Coleman side doing its dance.