Minnesota Recount: Good news/bad news

posted at 12:01 pm on November 26, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

We’ll start with the good news in the Minnesota Recount, at least from Norm Coleman’s perspective.  The expected gain for Al Franken in the heavily DFL counties of Hennepin (Minneapolis) and Ramsey (St. Paul) appears to have gone bust.  Coleman has actually gained in Hennepin, according to the Pioneer Press:

Are the piles of recounted ballots from red counties, where Republican Sen. Norm Colman might be expected to pick up a few stray votes? Or blue counties, where DFL challenger Al Franken might have the advantage?

But Minneapolis — the biggest, bluest pile of all — is turning that logic on its head. With nearly half of its ballots recounted, the city Franken calls home isn’t doing the candidate any favors. And that could be dimming Franken’s hopes of catching Coleman before the state canvassing board meets Dec. 16.

“Things are clearly moving in the wrong direction for Franken,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

With fewer than half of the ballots counted in Minneapolis, Franken has lost 86 votes, while Coleman has lost just 37. In other words, the city could be blunting any recount advantage Franken might have in the rest of the state as the recount rolls toward its Dec. 5 deadline.

True voter errors tend to be random, which is why these expectations always sounded a little strange.  Unless one believes that Franken voters are on average more inept than Coleman voters — a theory one Franken worker floated earlier — the recount should produce only microscopic changes that mostly act to cancel themselves out.  The highly-reliable optical scan system minimizes even these problems, which is why we have seen little movement in the overall gap between the two candidates.

Scott Johnson at Power Line gives us the bad news in their comprehensive post for today.   With his hopes fading on the recounting of valid ballots, Franken wants to revisit the idea of adding rejected ballots back into the pool.  The Star Tribune reports that DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie may try facilitating that:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman proposed a process for reconsidering rejected absentee ballots that would partly skirt the Canvassing Board: Have local elections officials review such ballots and identify those possibly improperly rejected.

Freeman, a DFLer who backed Franken, said that he and Anoka County Attorney Bob Johnson worked on the plan after Secretary of State Mark Ritchie asked them and other county attorneys for ideas to improve the process.

In a statement, the Coleman campaign said: “This is a back-door effort by both the Franken campaign, and Mr. Freeman, to try to gain influence on the eve of the discussions by the Canvassing Board, and there needs to be further explanation for why the Hennepin County Attorney is using his office in such an overtly partisan manner.”

But Freeman disagreed with that assessment. “This is trying to count all the ballots. How the hell is that partisan?” he said.

The Minnesota recount statutes are clear on this point.  The recount is strictly to tally those ballots accepted as valid on Election Day, and not to review rejected ballots for potential addition to the pool.  The state AG’s office has already communicated that to the Canvassing Board, but Ritchie wants to muddy the waters to assist Franken with either improving his chance by expanding the pool or to set up a lawsuit over the Canvassing Board’s actions after the recount ends.

In any event, though, even that pool may be small.  Only 53 absentee ballots were found to be rejected through administrative error by the Strib in Ramsey County, one of only two counties that had any admin error at all.  That won’t keep Franken from claiming widespread error, of course, but unlike in Washington and Florida, the statutes in Minnesota are very clear on absentee ballot acceptance and rejection, which minimizes the potential problems.

Read all of Scott’s post, especially the warning fron John Fund.  This isn’t over yet, and may not be for months.  Also, be sure to read an analysis by my friend Dr. Eric Ostermeier at the University of Minnesota as to why Norm Coleman’s victory, if upheld, would be a historic triumph for Republicans in this state.

Update: More good news; the Canvassing Board unanimously rejected Franken’s demand to add the rejected absentee ballots to the recount, and to have the board review the rejects.


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That is Awesome!!! I hope that Coleman wins!! I will dance around like mad! My niece and nephew live there. They don’t want Franken to win either. Will keep fingers crossed on this one.

sheebe on November 26, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Franken needs to get over it, go home, change his diaper, have a good cry while reminding himself he’s “special” and he loves himself.

christene on November 26, 2008 at 12:05 PM

oh well Al can always get his job back at Air America….maybe

kanda on November 26, 2008 at 12:07 PM

.2%? Mondale only won by .2% in the one state he won?

Count to 10 on November 26, 2008 at 12:07 PM

True voter errors tend to be random, which is why these expectations always sounded a little strange.

They might be random, but they should be proportionate. That is, if 0.005% of ballots in a certain county were in error, and that country had 70% Democrat voters, then you would expect 70% better results for Democrats.

if this is going to take months, will there be only 99 senators meanwhile?

Phoenician on November 26, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Come on Coleman!

upinak on November 26, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Well Ed, you missed your chance to be represented by Lizard People. How do you feel?

In serious news: Thank you exhaustive Minnesota election laws for preventing Al Franken from stealing national office.

BKennedy on November 26, 2008 at 12:11 PM

SIGN THE PETITION TO FORCE BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA TO PRESENT HIS QUALIFICATIONS.

PETITION FOR PUBLIC RELEASE OF
BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE

To: Electoral College, Congress of the United States, Federal Elections Commission, U.S. Supreme Court, President of the United States, other controlling legal authorities

Whereas, by requirement of the United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, no one can be sworn into office as president of the United States without being a natural born citizen;

Whereas, there is sufficient controversy within the citizenry of the United States as to whether presidential election winner Barack Obama was actually born in Hawaii as he claims;

Whereas, Barack Obama has refused repeated calls to release publicly his entire Hawaiian birth certificate, which would include the actual hospital that performed the delivery;

Whereas, lawsuits filed in several states seeking only proof of the basic minimal standard of eligibility have been rebuffed;

Whereas, Hawaii at the time of Obama’s birth allowed births that took place in foreign countries to be registered in Hawaii;

Whereas, concerns that our government is not taking this constitutional question seriously will result in diminished confidence in our system of free and fair elections;

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=81550

The above article appears on WorldNetDaily.

AdrianS on November 26, 2008 at 12:17 PM

Thank goodness. Senator Stuart Smalley sends cringes down my spine. If Franken were to win, where would reality and fiction end & begin?

portlandon on November 26, 2008 at 12:17 PM

All that Franken has to do is compare the list of rejected absentee ballots against his contribution list, and his lawn sign request list, and in the intersection he’ll find his “unjustly rejected” absentee voters.

RBMN on November 26, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Well, I worked my last day at the recount yesterday afternoon. If the ballots I witnessed are any indication, the voters for Franken ARE an ignorant, self indulgent, unfunny lot of miscreants. Most stupidly filled out ballots were Franken supporters with their Mickey Mouse, Marilyn Manson type write ins. It still begs the question of why over 40 per cent of voters would vote for this piece of garbage called Franken. Then, of course, one wonders the intelligence of the Obama voters who hoped for change… see the appointments for defense lately and his latest back tracking on tax increases and the Gitmo thingie? We can’t forget all the Clinton retreads. Didja get the change you wanted, libtards?

MNDavenotPC on November 26, 2008 at 12:19 PM

The DFL is probably just as liberal and tax happy as CA dems: Even Patterson in NY is not raising taxes in this economy. The DFL’s undoing this year was putting up people so far outside the mainstream that they couldn’t win even in this environment. Franken’s an asinine dbag. In the 3rd, the DFL passed over a moderate, soccer mom state senator for an left-wing 30 yr old lawyer, who didn’t even live in the district. If the DFL nominated even halfway decent people, they probably would’ve won the Senate seat, and probably the 3rd and 6th. Which mean, thank G*d for the DFL party activists.

IR-MN on November 26, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Memo to Frankin; gosh darnit no one likes you.

rich801 on November 26, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Is it me or is the picture a tad big?

upinak on November 26, 2008 at 12:26 PM

.2%? Mondale only won by .2% in the one state he won?

Count to 10 on November 26, 2008 at 12:07 PM

I know the suckie-whiney Democry-babies don’t like to hear it… But THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT A MAJORITY, BABY!

CynicalOptimist on November 26, 2008 at 12:28 PM

they should be proportionate
Phoenician

Why?

snaggletoothie on November 26, 2008 at 12:28 PM

More good news; the Canvassing Board unanimously rejected Franken’s demand to add the rejected absentee ballots to the recount, and to have the board review the rejects.

George Soros is not pleased………..

………………. time to “lawyer up”!

Seven Percent Solution on November 26, 2008 at 12:29 PM

The Minnesota recount statutes are clear on this point. The recount is strictly to tally those ballots accepted as valid on Election Day

But Franken and his legal team do not care about laws, these are liberals after all.

right2bright on November 26, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Again, the challenges are what will move the needle on this race. Coleman’s team has increased its challenge rate in recent days, and that will reflect in Franken losing votes in the “non-challenged” count.

The challenged ballots are the ones that are most likely to shift the vote, as they are the ones which may have been misread by machines, yet the intent is obvious to the human eye. We won’t know anything, really, until the challenged ballots are looked at.

Tom_Shipley on November 26, 2008 at 12:35 PM

Do you think Franken will wet himself publicly?

Zorro on November 26, 2008 at 12:40 PM

If Franken “wins,” I plan to throw the idea floated earlier in people’s faces:

Franken won because the voters too stupid to fill out a ballot correctly voted for Franken. That’s because all the people too stupid to vote without help are all Democrats. Therefore, only people who are at least moderately smart will vote Republican.

Har har har de hardy har. :-)

Aitch748 on November 26, 2008 at 12:41 PM

So,Stuart Smalley wants the ballots that were essential
crap,disqualified,to be reconsidered again to be scrutin
ized and rechecked!

Franken therefore,is saying,that his ballots are good
enough,and golly gosh darnit,I hope my fellow Liberals
find some fraud ballots somehow,somewhere,and fast!

I Hope Al Franken’s ballots don’t Change!Haha.

canopfor on November 26, 2008 at 12:47 PM

I’ll just continue to keep my fingers crossed and hope this will wake up the GOP to the importance of fighting voter fraud.

Done That on November 26, 2008 at 12:49 PM

I’ll just continue to keep my fingers crossed and hope this will wake up the GOP to the importance of fighting voter fraud.

There is no voter fraud going on here. The recount, which was automatically triggered due to state law, is going along in a perfectly legal fashion.

Tom_Shipley on November 26, 2008 at 12:54 PM

Just great, only 6 more years of hearing how Coleman stole the election…………….Go away carpet bagger.

jims on November 26, 2008 at 12:59 PM

Good news: Coleman declared winner.
Better news: Franken taken prisoner by extraterrestrials with extreme tendencies toward probing.

whitetop on November 26, 2008 at 1:04 PM

Here’s my liveblog post of this morning’s hearing.

I expected the board to reject the Franken campaign’s request. What stood out for me was Chief Justice Magnuson’s tone of voice in his initial statement on the matter. Terse is the word that best describes his tone of voice.

LFRGary on November 26, 2008 at 1:10 PM

Minnesota still need to be booted out of the United States for this one.

Percy_Peabody on November 26, 2008 at 1:16 PM

Minnesota still need to be booted out of the United States for this one.

Percy_Peabody on November 26, 2008 at 1:16 PM

Are you going to troll every post with such nonsense, or just any thread marginally related to MN? Did the collective state of MN run over your dog or steal your girlfriend?

Hollowpoint on November 26, 2008 at 1:31 PM

Percy’s girl/boy friend WAS a Minnesotan.

MNDavenotPC on November 26, 2008 at 1:45 PM

Minnesota still need to be booted out of the United States for this one.

Percy_Peabody on November 26, 2008 at 1:16 PM

If you believe that, then you need to include the following:
CA, WA, NY, MA, NJ, CT, etc……….
Pretty soon it will the State of America.
Unrealistic as hell.

Badger40 on November 26, 2008 at 1:51 PM

If he loses, Soros will probably give him a golden parachute.

petefrt on November 26, 2008 at 1:51 PM

It’s the Canvassing Board’s decisions on the challenged ballots that will decide the election. According to statistics from the Star-Tribune, relative to the original count where Coleman led by 215 votes, Coleman has lost 1,380 votes and Franken has lost 1,396 votes. If all of the challenges are upheld, Coleman wins by 215 + 1,396 – 1,380 = 231 votes. Challenged ballots are not included in the recounted vote totals.

If none of the challenges are upheld, all the Franken challenges go to Coleman and all the Coleman challenges go to Franken. Franken has challenged 1,773 ballots–if these are reinstated to Coleman, Coleman gains 1,773 – 1,380 = 393 votes. Coleman has challenged 1,853 ballots–if these are reinstated to Franken, Franken gains 1,853 – 1,396 = 457 votes. If none of the challenges are upheld, Franken would net 457 – 393 = 64 votes, not enough to overturn Coleman’s 215-vote lead, with 82% already recounted, and most of the remaining votes in Coleman-friendly counties.

So, if all the challenges are upheld, Coleman wins. If none of the challenges are upheld, Coleman wins. The only way Franken can win is if the Canvassing Board upholds a greater fraction of his challenges than Coleman’s challenges. Judging by the personalities of the two candidates, which is more likely to make frivolous challenges? Of course…the Lizard People guy.

Steve Z on November 26, 2008 at 1:54 PM

If Franken loses, maybe he can replace Alan Colmes as liberal sparring partner on the Hannity&Somebody Show.

Steve Z on November 26, 2008 at 1:58 PM

But Franken and his legal team do not care about laws, these are liberals after all.

right2bright on November 26, 2008 at 12:29 PM

They don’t care about election financing laws. Why should they care about pesky laws on how to count ballots?

Franken will win.

angryed on November 26, 2008 at 2:08 PM

If Franken loses, maybe he can replace Alan Colmes as liberal sparring partner on the Hannity&Somebody Show.

Hannity & Gnome.

Jim Treacher on November 26, 2008 at 2:11 PM


The DFL is probably just as liberal and tax happy as CA dems

I’d eliminate the probably.

LFRGary on November 26, 2008 at 2:14 PM

Steve Z on November 26, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Oh dear lord…NO.

PappaMac on November 26, 2008 at 2:26 PM

Wowser.

You mean a democrat will actually have to abide by the rules of the democratic process?

ACORN is going to be p1ssed.

locomotivebreath1901 on November 26, 2008 at 2:34 PM

All of the questionable ballots should be invalidated.

Having suffrage is even more dangerous than owning an NFA registered machinegun. A machingun can only be misused to harm people within range of the weapon.

If you are too stupid to follow the directions for turning in your ballot, you are too stupid to be allowed to vote.

Kristopher on November 26, 2008 at 2:35 PM

Hannity & Gnome.

Jim Treacher on November 26, 2008 at 2:11 PM

Best post today! This has legs, I tell ‘ya.

Red State State of Mind on November 26, 2008 at 3:19 PM

But Freeman disagreed with that assessment. “This is trying to count all the ballots. How the hell is that partisan?” he said.

Dear Mikey Freeman:
In response to your attempt to thwart state law and the duly and legally commissioned State Canvassing Board by stating the above typical left wing twang, may I say that you failed to state that you wanted to count every LEGAL vote.
Or was that one word droppped or perhaps lost in translation?

Amendment X on November 26, 2008 at 5:48 PM

that you wanted to count every LEGAL vote.
Or was that one word droppped or perhaps lost in translation?

Amendment X on November 26, 2008 at 5:48 PM

There you go again! What good is voter fraud if you only count the legal ones?? It’s tyrants like you that suppress the vox populi.

FalseProfit on November 26, 2008 at 6:20 PM

All of the questionable ballots should be invalidated.

Depends on what is meant by “questionable”. A ballot with both Coleman and Franken blackened in, with arrows or X’s or NO or Lizard People written in is questionable. But the ballot shown in Ed’s post is NOT questionable. If a voter blackens 95% of the oval for Coleman and nothing else, it’s clear what he/she meant to do. It’s a vote for Coleman.

Steve Z on November 26, 2008 at 6:31 PM

Hmmmm

I wonder what job Sandy the burgular will get???

Damn the Clintons owe him the world.

Rick007 on November 26, 2008 at 9:04 PM

Can hardly wait for Franken to throw a hissy.

GarandFan on November 26, 2008 at 9:47 PM