Minnesota Recount: Taking longer than expected

posted at 5:10 pm on December 22, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

I’m getting a few requests for updates today for the Minnesota recount situation, and the best I can tell you is that nothing much has changed — and even the changes people think have occurred are tenuous at best.  The canvassing board hoped to finish their work today after finally reviewing the last of the ballot challenges, but reintroducing the withdrawn challenges turned out to be a bigger task than first thought:

The state Canvassing Board will wait until Tuesday to meet again to try to determine a winner in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race between DFLer Al Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said Sunday that the delay was caused by the amount of time it is taking to reallocate the roughly 5,000 ballot challenges that were withdrawn by the two men. …

According to Star Tribune figures, Franken holds a lead over Coleman of 251 votes. That lead is expected to shrink after the 5,000 challenges are tabulated because Franken challenged about 400 more ballots than Coleman.

The same day, the state Supreme Court will take up the question of whether more than 100 ballots were counted twice, as Coleman contends.

Still at issue is the fate of an estimated 1,600 absentee ballots that were improperly rejected by election judges. The two campaigns and state officials have until Dec. 31 to figure out which of those rejected ballots will be counted.

The big question remains who leads after the ballot challenges.  The unofficial counts that have been used have not accurately reflected the state of the race, because they failed to account for the withdrawn ballot challenges.  The campaigns challenged each others’ votes almost exclusively, and since Franken withdrew 400 challenges more than Coleman, the implication is that the return of the challenges will wipe out that 251-vote lead and return Coleman to the lead.

Bottom line: we won’t know much until at least tomorrow, and depending on the Supreme Court decision, possibly into the new year.  This recount was automatic because of the close nature of the results, and both campaigns have used their challenges in similar ways.  The canvassing board, apart from the hyperpartisan Mark Ritchie, is comprised of respected, independent jurists.  John Lott, though, sees problems with their results:

The Canvassing Board faces a difficult task in divining voter intentions. It is very difficult to determine how a voter meant to vote simply by looking at what might be stray marks on the ballot. And whatever rules are adopted must be consistently used in evaluating all ballots.

Some board decisions on votes are exceedingly difficult to understand, and even watching the television coverage of their decisions this last week provided little additional insight. Here is an example where the Minnesota Canvassing Board claims the vote is clearly for Franken. Voters are supposed to fill in the small oval next to a candidate’s name to vote for that candidate. The board explains its decision as there being “No Dup” (presumably meaning that there was no duplicate ballot), but it is not clear how that would switch what looks like an obvious Coleman vote to a Franken vote.

We’ll know tomorrow.  Lott thinks that Franken may still be ahead after the allocation of withdrawn challenges.


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Sucks to be a person in Minnesota right now!

upinak on December 22, 2008 at 5:12 PM

If there is any way for a repub to lose, it’s on these endless fraudulent democrap recounts. I wish Coleman the best and hope his legal team is better than Frankenfurter’s but I doubt it.

eaglewingz08 on December 22, 2008 at 5:19 PM

Sucks to be a person in Minnesota right now!

That depends on the person; if he voted for Stuart, he deserves everything that’s coming to him.

Kensington on December 22, 2008 at 5:21 PM

That depends on the person; if he voted for Stuart, he deserves everything that’s coming to him.

Kensington on December 22, 2008 at 5:21 PM

very true.

upinak on December 22, 2008 at 5:22 PM

I’m not from Minnesota, so I cannot possibly grasp what even an ardent Democrat sees in a clown like Al Franken as an elected official. Can someone from that Land of Ten Thousand Lakes PUL-EEEEEEZE help me out here???

manwithblackhat on December 22, 2008 at 5:23 PM

Also, according to the Star-Tribune, the Canvassing Board has evaluated 852 ballots challenged by Coleman, to 482 ballots challenged by Franken, or a net excess of 370 Coleman challenges.

Prior to the recount, Coleman led by 215 votes. After the recount, prior to challenges, Coleman led by 188 votes, but those double-counted ballots (if single-counted) would give Coleman a net 46 votes, which would give Coleman a 234-vote lead.

If Franken leads by 251, but withdraws 400 more challenges than Coleman, we would end up with Coleman by 149, or by 196 votes if the double-counted ballots are corrected. So, after a massive recount and over 6,000 challenges we end up with a 19-vote difference with the original count?

Shakespeare would have a good name for this: Much Ado About Nothing, or The Tempest in a teapot. Except if the Class Clown steals it via a biased Canvassing Board.

Steve Z on December 22, 2008 at 5:31 PM

I’m not from Minnesota, so I cannot possibly grasp what even an ardent Democrat sees in a clown like Al Franken as an elected official. Can someone from that Land of Ten Thousand Lakes PUL-EEEEEEZE help me out here???

Frankenstein isn’t a conservative or Republican, that’s what his supporters see in him.

Put it this way, if you drive around my fair state you will STILL see signs for Paul Wellstone in people’s yards, and he died six years ago.

Minnesota liberals would vote for a dog turd if it meant beating the GOP. Come to think it, they did exactly that in November.

Bishop on December 22, 2008 at 5:34 PM

And if you go to FoxNews right now, you can see one of the contested ballots the canvassing board is looking at: an oval clearly marked for Coleman yet given to Franken.

The fix is in. I’m moving to Texas.

Bishop on December 22, 2008 at 5:36 PM

It was essentially a tie. So, who wins tie elections? The guy with the better lawyer maybe…. Based on that, and that alone, I have to predict Franken wins. Oh, the shame….

RBMN on December 22, 2008 at 5:37 PM

The recount is done when Franken wins, basically.

Asher on December 22, 2008 at 5:39 PM

I’ll wait for the movie…oh the suspense :)

Dr Evil on December 22, 2008 at 5:44 PM

Dems will have no excuses for the next 2 years.

lodge on December 22, 2008 at 5:44 PM

And if you go to FoxNews right now, you can see one of the contested ballots the canvassing board is looking at: an oval clearly marked for Coleman yet given to Franken.

The fix is in. I’m moving to Texas.

Bishop on December 22, 2008 at 5:36 PM

I saw that…couldn’t for the life of me figure how in all seven hells that could possibly be construed for Franken.

They also describe how the inconsistent guidelines have heavily favored Franken. Say hello to Senator Al, Election-Thief Extrodinare’

Rogue on December 22, 2008 at 5:45 PM

Here is socal we use the inca system. Prior to the ballot going in the box it is passed through a validation reader to make sure there are no overvotes. Seems reasonable. Validate the ballot while the voter is standing in front of you. No need to read their mind later.

kurtzz3 on December 22, 2008 at 5:48 PM

The clear intent I see is that the people running the system are voting for Franken.

KW64 on December 22, 2008 at 5:57 PM

If the story I just read over on Fox is in the least accurate on how the “canvassing board” is deciding voter intent the people of Minnesota should be arming up and surrounding the State Capitol and running everyone out of town and holding special elections to replace them all from the State level on up. And if that story is accurate and the people of Minnesota are not intelligent enough to handle affairs on their own, I think those of us in other states have not just the right but the responsibility to act to stop this farce. Minnesota sending this idiot to DC doesn’t just effect Minnesota, it has implications on every other state as this clown will have a vote on legislation that can and will impact every other state. Personally I’d like to see us recall our representatives and senators from Washington in protest. If a few states would pull together it might fianlly send a message that we’re fed up with this bullchit! And failing that, maybe it’s time to as a great man once said, to “refresh the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.”

Pissed off in Texas!

BadMojo on December 22, 2008 at 6:34 PM

Here is socal we use the inca system. Prior to the ballot going in the box it is passed through a validation reader to make sure there are no overvotes. Seems reasonable. Validate the ballot while the voter is standing in front of you. No need to read their mind later.

kurtzz3 on December 22, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Here in Washington, they are almost done moving all voting to mail in. The voter will no longer be able to make sure their ballot was correct – the leave it to the (D)iviners.

SouthernRoots on December 22, 2008 at 6:39 PM

I saw that…couldn’t for the life of me figure how in all seven hells that could possibly be construed for Franken.

Occam’s Razor would suggest that it is because we are no longer a representative Republic, but a One Party State.

That’s just me though, I’m sure.

HerrMorgenholz on December 22, 2008 at 6:58 PM

Are we there yet……

Are we there yet…..

Are we there yet…..

canopfor on December 22, 2008 at 7:03 PM

Why aren’t conservatives and Republicans marching in the streets of Minnesota to prevent this travesty? I’ll tell you why–because they’re all a bunch of wimps who are sitting on their butts at home sipping white wine and snorting cocaine. That’s why Minnesota is a joke and should be nuked off the map. Go to hell, Minnesota!!!!

Percy_Peabody on December 22, 2008 at 7:04 PM

Here’s a fool-proof method to use on ALL ballots. FILL IT OUT CORRECTLY OR GET IT TOSSED. If you’re too damned stupid to follow instructions, your vote SHOULD NOT count!

GarandFan on December 22, 2008 at 7:06 PM

… Personally I’d like to see us recall our representatives and senators from Washington in protest. …

BadMojo on December 22, 2008 at 6:34 PM

Yes! I am in California and I support this idea 150%! Lets just pull out Feinstein, Boxer, Pelosi, Waxman and the other 38 odd house reps in protest!

Freddy on December 22, 2008 at 7:56 PM

Occam’s Razor would suggest that it is because we are no longer a representative Republic, but a One Party State.

That’s just me though, I’m sure.

HerrMorgenholz on December 22, 2008 at 6:58 PM

Me, too.

platypus on December 22, 2008 at 7:58 PM

And if you go to FoxNews right now, you can see one of the contested ballots the canvassing board is looking at: an oval clearly marked for Coleman yet given to Franken.

The fix is in. I’m moving to Texas.

Bishop on December 22, 2008 at 5:36 PM

I agree and I would welcome you to Texas!

First the canvassing board decided not to look at “voter’s intent”, i.e., a vote for Coleman and then votes for Democrats down-ticket was indeed a vote for Franken. Then when Coleman kept winning, they had to revert to the “voter’s intent”, which I think is crazy, i.e., the Fox story. If the oval is blackened for Coleman, then it should be a Coleman vote, no matter what the voter does down-ticket. If it cannot be determined 100%, it should be thrown out. Seems there are more democrats in the canvassing board who want to make sure Frankenstein wins. Everytime the vote is close, they seem to “discover” votes “not counted.” This is pure bullhocky. P.S. I’m from Texas and not a big Coleman (RINO) fan, but Frankenstein is looney-toons.

Neocon Peg on December 22, 2008 at 8:16 PM

The fix is in. I’m moving to Texas.
Bishop on December 22, 2008 at 5:36 PM

Come on down Bishop, we need all the conservatives we can get. Don’t forget your guns, these liberal pricks are moving this way!

try again later on December 22, 2008 at 8:36 PM

If the fix had not have been in Coleman would have already won. They keep finding just enough votes to make Franken close and them they find just enough to let him win. This has worked so well for the Dems that I can understand why they are still in shock over Florida and Bush. These people only believe in fair elections if they win!

duff65 on December 22, 2008 at 8:39 PM

Pissed off in Texas!
BadMojo on December 22, 2008 at 6:34 PM

Bishop, this is the kind of people who live in Texas. I’m cleaning my musket right now!!
….well said BadMojo

try again later on December 22, 2008 at 8:48 PM

hey mn morons [yes, i'm at the point where i hold the entire state culpable, flame away -- i don't care] — the new senate is to be sworn in the first week of january — a competent state would have completed their recount by now …

/and the guy who didn’t rely on fraud would have won, too!

Buckaroo on December 22, 2008 at 9:10 PM

It will be interesting how the state of mina-soo-cold will handle being the laughing stock of all 57 states!

grapeknutz on December 22, 2008 at 10:38 PM

…Minnesota is a joke and should be nuked off the map. Go to hell, Minnesota!!!!

Percy_Peabody on December 22, 2008 at 7:04 PM

It’s -12 degrees, there’s a couple of feet of snow on the ground already, the Vikings fumbled 7 times in yesterday’s loss and Al Franken is gonna be our senator…

Percy, why the piling on? Isn’t that enough misery for you?

Best I can figure is the ex-wife’s a Gopher State gal.

Bruno Strozek on December 22, 2008 at 11:05 PM

You people in Minnesota are a joke.If Franken wins you deserve all the pain you will get.Also to the people who voted for the Independent in Nov.you see what you get when you throw you vote away Al (the jerk)Franken. P.S. why not talk Sean Penn into moving there and running for Gov..

thmcbb on December 23, 2008 at 12:19 AM

It sucks that America is being subjected to the moronic fools who live in MN.

Good gravy! What are those idiots drinking up there?

csdeven on December 23, 2008 at 5:21 AM

Minnesota will soon be proud they were responsible for a historic victory: electing the first tax-evading pornographer to national office.

BKennedy on December 23, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Let’s face it, Minnesota is no more a red state than New York is. There’s more to be gained with making Franken Beans the face of the Democrats than to have another wobbly Conservative in Coleman.

I also didn’t know there was a competition for politically embarrassing locale. Louisiana seems to want to give up the title with Jindal as governor. Who knew that Minnesota would jump at the opportunity.

EMD on December 23, 2008 at 10:08 AM

You know what? I live in Minnesota and I’m a very strong conservative. As I’ve said on the other thread on this topic, what the heck do you want us to do? We’ve done everything you folks here are crying your corpulent faces about. We ARE protesting every day… I was an observer in the original recount. You whiners and crybabies sicken me. I’ll go this alone, I don’t want you or the other Percy Dovetonsils to help( oh and Percy? you still wear diapers and cry in the dark, don’t you?). Good God… had some of you been in Nam with me, you’d have been killed. As to those on this thread who are in MN and will fight on, I welcome you. The rest of you? Go to the hell of your religion or atheistic realm.

MNDavenotPC on December 23, 2008 at 10:51 AM

I second MNDavenotPC’s emotion.
Blaming Minnesota Conservatives for not crushing Franken in the election would hold more weight if all of your states hadn’t also voted Obama in. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I want to hear some “mea culpa” action from you whiners at the kiddie table.

Doug on December 23, 2008 at 12:26 PM