The Coleman vs Franken Contest: Court Whacks Coleman
by CA Pol Junkie
The Minnesota Election Contest Court charged with addressing Norm Coleman's complaint that he didn't get as many votes as Al Franken has laid down a ruling which literally decimates Coleman's legal strategy. Down by 225 votes after the recount, Coleman was attempting to get rejected absentee ballots un-rejected and counted to give him a mathematically possible (if spectacularly improbable) chance at victory. The other unstated aim of Coleman was to delay as long as possible the day when Al Franken will be sworn in as a United States Senator. The Court ruling paves the way to a relatively quick instatement of Al Franken as Senator.
At issue are about 12,000 absentee ballots which were rejected by election officials and not counted because they did not meet all the legal criteria to be accepted. Election officials had identified 1,346 absentee ballots which were wrongfully rejected, and the Coleman and Franken campaigns agreed to count 933 of those. Coleman was trying to get up to 5,000 more ballots counted, including some which the Coleman campaign itself earlier refused to allow to be counted.
After hearing agonizing testimony for 3 weeks, the Court classified ballots into 19 categories describing the various permutations of voter and election official error which let to ballots being rejected. The campaigns argued before the Court about which of those rejected ballots were actually legal votes and ought to be counted. Needless to say, the Coleman lawyers were not persuasive.
The Court explicitly rejected all ballots falling into 12 of the 19 categories. The remainder won't necessarily be accepted, however, as the Court outlined several circumstances under which ballots presented in Court would appear to be legal votes but were still rightfully rejected. We are now looking at a much smaller "universe" of votes to even consider counting, so this should quicken the remainder of the Election Contest Court and bring sooner the swearing in of Senator Franken.