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January 03, 2009

More ballot counting in Minnesota

Pear Tree and Snow, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Election officials begin counting 953 improperly rejected absentee ballots in the Minnesota Senate race.

The count is expected to be complete by Saturday night and the Canvassing Board will likely certify the ballots by 2:30pm on Monday. The final count may not be available until Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mark Richie told the NYT Caucus blog he doesn't expect the loser to challenge the result in court. That's an interesting claim. The conventional wisdom is that if Franken retains his lead, Coleman will litigate--hence the handwringing about whether to seat Franken provisionally.

I wonder why Richie foresees a definitive end by Tuesday. Maybe he knows something about the state of the count that we don't. My guess is that he expects the absentee ballots from heavily Democratic Hennepin County to go overwhelmingly for Franken, thereby expanding his margin of victory beyond the point where a Coleman suit could hope to close the gap.


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There were press conferences tonight. One by Coleman's attorneys, and one by Mark Ritchie.

Coleman's attorneys said that it's virtually certain that they will file an election contest.

Then Mark Ritchie said that he doesn't believe that there will be an election contest.

Mark Ritchie also said that he's upset that over 400 ballots identified by the counties as Improperly Rejected weren't counted because of vetoes by the campaigns. He didn't seem to like the MN Supreme Court decision letting campaigns veto ballots.

I'm hearing rumors that Franken's lead has grown to 250 after this chapter of the recount, which is too big for Coleman to hope to overcome in court.

Both sides agreed to count the latest subset of improperly rejected absentee ballots. So, these are "safe" additional votes that are unlikely to themselves become the subject of a court challenge. I'm thinking that if Franken picked up enough of said votes, Coleman might not even bother to sue because he couldn't make up enough votes from other sources to win, even if he were to prevail in court.

The Minnesota Chief Justice is an appointee of Republican governor Tim Pawlenty.

The Chief Justice gets to choose the three judges on the special court which reviews election contests.

Maybe he'll pick three people who are such Republican partisans that they will go along with whatever the Coleman campaign wants (tossing the allegedly duplicate 110 ballots in Democratic precincts, adding 600 Rejected Absentee Ballots from Republican precincts which the counties considered properly rejected) and refuse whatever the Franken campaign wants (adding more Rejected Absentee Ballots from Democratic precincts.)

In that case, Norm Coleman will gain a lead, and those decisions will be reviewed by the Minnesota Supreme court. 4 of the 7 Justices on the MN Supreme Court were appointed by governor Tim Pawlenty.

(Ideally, Minnesota would change its system of choosing judges so that fewer are appointed by the governor.)

"Breaking Out of Minnesota

With the recount now complete, absentee ballots have pushed Franken to a 225 vote lead over Norm Coleman, making Franken's eventual victory now appear all but certain."

Looks like it's pretty much over (apart from Coleman's flailing).

If the future rulings on this election are reasonably fair, then Al Franken will be the next Senator from Minnesota.

Norm Coleman's only chance is for ridiculously unfair rulings, which add hundreds of Rejected Absentee Ballots from Republican precincts without adding many Rejected Absentee Ballots from Democratic precincts.

Love the snowy snap. Here are a few captures taken X-mas eve day on the west side of Vancouver.

Lindsay, one of your best shots. A keeper.

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