Minnesota Recount: Coleman files election contest

posted at 3:35 pm on January 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

No surprise here.  We knew both candidates had prepared election challenges to the Minnesota Senate race result, depending on which candidate won in the final recount tally.  Coleman may have some grounds for review, but it’s a long shot at best:

Surrounded by cheering supporters, Republican Norm Coleman, who received 225 fewer votes than DFLer Al Franken in the U.S. Senate recount, vowed Tuesday to wage a court battle to challenge the outcome.

“Not every valid vote has been counted, and some have been counted twice,” Coleman said. “Let’s take the time right now in this contested race to get it right.”

In deciding to fight on, Coleman rejected Monday’s ruling of the state Canvassing Board, which certified the results that gave Franken the lead. The next phase of the dispute will take place in Ramsey County District Court, where Coleman will try to convince a three-judge panel that he was hurt by votes that were wrongly excluded and improperly included in the recount.

Coleman made his announcement at a news conference surrounded by a feisty group of supporters in a room of the State Office Building in St. Paul. When Coleman was asked whether he had considered conceding the race, the crowd shouted in chorus, “No!”

It should be emphasized that election challenges are part of the lawful proceedings.  They make sense when conducted properly and for some substantial reason.  In an election where two candidates who received over 2 million votes in the aggregate ended up separated by less than 0.01% of those votes, the conduct of the election and the recount should receive great scrutiny.

Unfortunately, as my good friend Scott Johnson explains at Power Line today, it may be too little, too late.  Al Franken and his team understood how to win recounts, while Coleman appeared too hesitant to play the same game, or at least play it as aggressively:

The media coverage of the events related to Minnesota’s Senate election and subsequent recount has been so poor that it is difficult to determine what happened. The erosion of Senator Coleman’s approximately 700 vote lead over Al Franken on November 5 to the emergence of Al Franken with a 225 vote lead over Senator Coleman on January 5 has given rise to implications that Democrats have stolen the election for Franken.

The Wall Street Journal editorial “Funny business in Minnesota” is representative of this strain of commentary on the canvas and recount. This commentary comes with the underlying theme that Senator Coleman is a victim of Democratic scheming.

From the day following the election, the Franken campaign undertstood it needed to come up with additional votes to prevail. Thus the initial “count every vote” mantra that accompanied its litigation regarding rejected absentee ballots. The mantra ceased at the moment Franken took the lead, even though other apparently improperly rejected absentee ballots identified by the Coleman campaign have yet to be counted, and other Franken-leaning absentee ballots appear to have been counted twice.

It is particularly difficult to determine what happened in the recount as it proceeded at locations around the state. There has not to my knowledge been any public airing of grievances. The Board of Canvassers that was convened to preside over the recount and rule on challenged ballots conducted itself honorably under difficult circumstances.

Scott, who has followed the recount closely, comes to the same conclusion I have: that this election did not get “stolen”, but that Team Coleman got “outhustled and outsmarted” by Franken and his team.  Scott praises the work of the Canvassing Board for doing a good job under pressure, and says he saw no bias or bent in their work.  He’s correct.  Thus far, no one has shown any reason to believe that Franken manufactured votes during the recount process or did anything illegal at all.  The corrected election-night totals, in which 500 or so of Coleman’s lead dissipated in next-day corrections, got validated by the initial recount, which left Coleman ahead by around 230 votes.

The Coleman team simply didn’t play offense enough in the days after the election.  They looked to the example set by Dino Rossi in Washington to find what not to do, but they still wound up spending almost all of their time reacting to Team Franken’s actions rather than driving the process themselves.  Scott equates this to a prevent defense in the NFL with a 2-point lead.  Instead of aggressively looking for more Coleman votes, they spent most of their time limiting Franken’s team from finding more Franken votes.  That strategy may have made some sense for the person leading the race going into the recount, but as we see now, it’s about as effective in recount processes as it is in NFL games.

Still, Coleman has at least a slim chance of getting a second chance in the election contest.  The state Supreme Court may not like the lack of a statewide standard for reviewing absentee ballots, and the issue of double-counted ballots will certainly get their interest.  With the gap as narrow as it is, either or both of those issues would have been enough to return a bad result, and might get the court to intervene.  If the court wants to intervene, we will probably hear that later rather than sooner as they debate it.  Stay tuned.


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Good luck Norm. Hope you can keep the back half of Caligula’s horse out of the Senate.

Really you have nothing to lose. Becuase if you are unsuccessful you lost to Stewart Smalley. So…

Never give in, Never surrender!

Mr. Joe on January 7, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Thus far, no one has shown any reason to believe that Franken manufactured votes during the recount process or did anything illegal at all.

Why would you think that? Appearance is everything. It’s not like Franken’s team is going to reveal that… That’s up to Coleman’s team… but Coleman’s group is-

The Coleman team simply didn’t play offense enough in the days after the election.

And there ya go.

Skywise on January 7, 2009 at 3:39 PM

So Coleman should’ve found a pro-Coleman district to suddenly find a 100 votes here and there, all of which go 100% to Coleman? Play the same game Franken was playing?

Franken doing that isn’t ‘stealing’?

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:40 PM

According to Politico, Reid has sworn that Coleman will never be seated.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/scorecard/0109/Reid_Coleman_will_never_ever_serve.html

MarkTheGreat on January 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Um, with the exception of the 2000 Presidential election, Republicans NEVER win these recounts.

Hoodlumman on January 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

advantage to Franken is it gives us 6 yrs to:

1) laugh at Minnesotan’s(sorry Ed)

2) make franken along with Pelosi, the poster boys of Democrat Governance goign into future elections.

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Did somebody slip me some acid, or is America really being warped this badly?

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

MarkTheGreat: Didn’t Reid say the same thing about Roland Burris?

Hoodlumman on January 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Does the court have the authority to order a new election?

MarkTheGreat on January 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Um, with the exception of the 2000 Presidential election, Republicans NEVER win these recounts.

Hoodlumman on January 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

The 2000 recount is also the last time the Republicans had enough balls to play offense.

MarkTheGreat on January 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Holding off the inevitable.

Good man goes home.

Nut goes to Washington.

The harlots are us.

Entelechy on January 7, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Thus far, no one has shown any reason to believe that Franken manufactured votes during the recount process or did anything illegal at all.

Votes found in backseats and votes that were added to the total but don’t have a ballot to back them up isn’t being manufactured or illegal?

Puh-lease

This election was stolen.

Rogue on January 7, 2009 at 3:47 PM

The 2000 recount is also the last time the Republicans had enough balls to play offense.

MarkTheGreat on January 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM

+7

Take the gloves off and fight like you wanna win.

portlandon on January 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

This election was stolen.

Rogue on January 7, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Not really. We all get what we ask for, and we deserve our ‘leaders’.

Entelechy on January 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Coleman didn’t listen to Hairy Reid Hairy said Coleman will never take that seat. Only Franken has Hairy’s blessing.

kanda on January 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

The 2000 recount is also the last time the Republicans had enough balls to play offense.

MarkTheGreat on January 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM
+7

Take the gloves off and fight like you wanna win.

portlandon on January 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Unfortunately it’s the last time Bush had any balls against the Dems.

Rogue on January 7, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Instead of aggressively looking for more Coleman votes, they spent most of their time limiting Franken’s team from finding more Franken votes.

I do understand what you’re saying, but this sentence troubles me.

I don’t want Republicans to win by finding ballots in a car trunk, or counting some ballots twice. If we have to win by cheating like that, we’ve given up our basic Conservative principles.

cs89 on January 7, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Scott praises the work of the Canvassing Board for doing a good job under pressure, and says he saw no bias or bent in their work. He’s correct. Thus far, no one has shown any reason to believe that Franken manufactured votes during the recount process or did anything illegal at all. –Morrissey

I can’t believe Power Line and Morrissey are whitewashing the Minnesota Board of Canvassers.

The Foxnews.com article, “Ballot Madness: Tipping the Scales in Minnesota’s Senate Recount“, includes graphics of actual votes reviewed by the Board, as well as the Board’s decision on each.

I defy anyone to objectively view these decisions by the Minnesota Board of Canvassers, and come to any other conclusion than that the fix was in for a Franken victory.

clark smith on January 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Did somebody slip me some acid, or is America really being warped this badly?

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:42 PM

They told us that years after dropping we could experience ‘flashbacks’.

thomasaur on January 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Republicans have got to take a page out of the Dem Playbook if we are to compete in the future. Like the Secretary of State project.

Buy Danish on January 7, 2009 at 3:54 PM

Of course this election was stolen (in various ways). Every time there was a call to make it went to Franken. You can’t have more votes than voters and that happened several times and you can’t have every decision go Franken’s way.

duff65 on January 7, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Fight on Coleman,..till the last vote, YOU FIGHT!

christene on January 7, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Given how this election went, how the Vikings ever lost the wild card game to the Eagles in Minnesota is beyond me. The Vikings should have discovered a couple of dozen touchdowns hidden in a vat of Lutefisk and declared victory at the end.

That would have shown Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.

Mr. Joe on January 7, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Franken is odious, but if “…Coleman got ‘outhustled and outsmarted’ by Franken and his team…” then maybe Coleman shouldn’t be a US Senator after all.

Sheerq on January 7, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Um, with the exception of the 2000 Presidential election, Republicans NEVER win these recounts.

Hoodlumman on January 7, 2009 at 3:41 PM

What about the congressional election in Florida in 2006? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida%27s_13th_congressional_district

The election recounts that I know about are Florida 2000, Washington 2004, Florida 2006, and Minnesota 2008. If Franken wins this one, that makes it 2 wins for Democrats, 2 wins for Republicans.

How do you get that Republicans never win these recounts? Are there several recounts that Democrats won that I missed?

tneloms on January 7, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Minnesota want to so despretely be cool like Louisianna and New Jersey.

Think how pathetic that is.

Mr. Joe on January 7, 2009 at 3:59 PM

Instead of aggressively looking for more Coleman votes, they spent most of their time limiting Franken’s team from finding more Franken votes.

Actually on retrospect, this line really bothers me as well.
Isn’t the point of an election to count ALL votes properly.

Here we are talking about an election with a near 100% error rate (in relation to the number of “questionable ballots”) and they only recounted SELECT counties because one guy’s legal team said so?

Somethings really wrong with the system when it comes down to ties like this and we’d be better off just mandating a re-election in a statistical tie.

Isn’t that on the odd side?

Skywise on January 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I defy anyone to objectively view these decisions by the Minnesota Board of Canvassers, and come to any other conclusion than that the fix was in for a Franken victory.

clark smith on January 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Even if you agree with Lott’s analysis, that’s a total of what, a 10-20 vote swing toward Coleman? Out of the thousands of votes that the board reviewed? I don’t think that means “the fix was in,” especially when the margin is much larger than that.

By the way, no mention in Lott’s article of the board’s decision that “Lizard People” (a vote for Franken) is a real person and thus an identifying mark, but “Brett Favre” (a vote for Coleman) is not.

tneloms on January 7, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Look Norm, the sad fact is you got 42% of the vote, 58% of the electorate rejected your incumbency. Please exit, stage right.

Mark30339 on January 7, 2009 at 4:02 PM

boy do they ever need a special election in Minnesocold.

kirkill on January 7, 2009 at 4:03 PM

I thought you people were against frivolous lawsuits.

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Look Norm, the sad fact is you got 42% of the vote, 58% of the electorate rejected your incumbency. Please exit, stage right.

Norm got 42, Franken got 42…by your logic, neither has a mandate and MN should just have 1 senator for the next 6 years.

Rogue on January 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Hey Norm…..how bad of a campaign did you run to get beat by a criminal named Stuart Smiley? It’s pathetic!

grapeknutz on January 7, 2009 at 4:09 PM

I thought you people were against frivolous lawsuits.

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

1. characterized by lack of seriousness or sense: frivolous conduct.
2. self-indulgently carefree; unconcerned about or lacking any serious purpose.

Used with lawsuits, the generally acknowledged meaning is a lawsuit that is without merit, pursued either for monetary gain, or to harass the defendent.

I know how liberals hate dictionaries and/or facts, so I thought I’d help you out.

apollyonbob on January 7, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Unless I’m smoking something, this is wrong:

Coleman,who received 225 fewer votes than DFLer Al Franken in the U.S. Senate recount,

this is understating the problem, as I’m sure the Star Tribune intends to do. Coleman was UP by 700 before the recount. So in actuality, Coleman received at least 925 fewer votes that Franken. That is almost unprecedented, and stinks to high heaven.

bilups on January 7, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Ed,

I’m not certain I’m fully grasping your meaning here. It does sound like you’re saying, “Everyone cheats, so you should cheat harder.”

I mean, Coleman wanted to work against Franken fixing the results by counting votes that weren’t there. But your comment was that he went the wrong way and should’ve gone “on offense.”

How does he go on offense without generating fraudulent votes?

apollyonbob on January 7, 2009 at 4:14 PM

I thought you people were against frivolous lawsuits.

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

We know how to prioritize- a lawsuit in this instance is necessary due to the real possibility of electoral fraud.

Or, “not frivolous.”

cs89 on January 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Did anybody hear something?…..WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAAWHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAAWHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA WHAA.

portlandon on January 7, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Leo Durocher was right.
Norm lost the day he pulled the negative ads.
In an election with a strong (15%) 3rd party candidate, Coleman had to drive the fence-sitting DFLer’s (like Mrs. Strozek) to Dean Barkley.
The hard-hitting ads worked with this group until they were pulled.

Plus, Team Franken came to win. They were driven by rage, BDS and a lustful sense of entitlement.

Franken didn’t win, Coleman lost.

Game over.

Bruno Strozek on January 7, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Al Franken and his team understood how to win fix recounts, while Coleman appeared too hesitant to play the same game, or at least play it as aggressively naively expected the Democrats to play by the rules

FIFY.

thirteen28 on January 7, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Great analysis of a stolen election, Ed. You and your fellow Minnesotans deserve Al Franken. When the conservatvies themselves in Minnesota don’t care about a corrupt clown representing them in the Senate, then what else is there to say? You suck, Minnesota.

Percy_Peabody on January 7, 2009 at 4:44 PM

clark smith on January 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Thank you Clark!

Ed, please reveiw the link to Fox News’ article. The Canvassing Board didn’t do anything worthy of praise and I expect that you will retract your statement because it’s obvious that the rules were not applied equally and were in favor of Franken and not of Coleman.

Sultry Beauty on January 7, 2009 at 4:56 PM

If it torques Reid’s nuts, I hope they keep challenging all the way to the Supreme Court.

connertown on January 7, 2009 at 5:41 PM

Minnesota’s new state motto:

Louisiana of the North

omnipotent on January 7, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Ed,

How can you with a straight face say Franken didn’t steal this? They found ballots in somebody’s car for crying out loud, that almost all went for Franken. If you don’t think that’s cheating, what is?

angryed on January 7, 2009 at 5:49 PM

According to Politico, Reid has sworn that Coleman will never be seated.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/scorecard/0109/Reid_Coleman_will_never_ever_serve.html

Which can only mean one thing — Senator Norm Coleman will be seated.

Rae on January 7, 2009 at 6:13 PM

Team Coleman got “outhustled and outsmarted” by Franken and his team…

The Coleman team simply didn’t play offense enough in the days after the election.

Story of our frikkin life as a political party, isn’t it. Gawd, how tiresome it gets.

petefrt on January 7, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Unfortunately, as my good friend Scott Johnson explains at Power Line today, it may be too little, too late. Al Franken and his team understood how to win recounts, while Coleman appeared too hesitant to play the same game, or at least play it as aggressively:

DO YA THINK????

Amendment X on January 7, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Time and again, I have screamed for Repubs to read Horowitz’s book “The Art of Political War”. he basically says that Repubs enter politics thinking this a version of the Oxford Debating Club. The lefties look at politics as a knife fight. So what do you think these hammer ass Repubs do? Whine and lose but don’t read and learn. They then expect real conservatives like me to vote for them to lead.
Adios losers!
Norm took six years to lose this race.
Go read my links in prior comments (BTW, I live in Minnesota).

Amendment X on January 7, 2009 at 6:34 PM

good luck

rob verdi on January 7, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Time and again, I have screamed for Repubs to read Horowitz’s book “The Art of Political War”. he basically says that Repubs enter politics thinking this a version of the Oxford Debating Club. The lefties look at politics as a knife fight.

Amendment X on January 7, 2009 at 6:34 PM

Amen. It’s well past time we all (on the right) start to view this as what it is. That doesn’t mean we adopt the left’s tactics, but we at least need to factor them into our own strategies and start treating them accordingly.

Cylor on January 7, 2009 at 7:16 PM

Time and again, I have screamed for Repubs to read Horowitz’s book “The Art of Political War”.

Amendment X on January 7, 2009 at 6:34 PM

I second your suggestion enthusiastically. Probably most folks here at Hot Air have read Horowitz’s Radical Son and Art of Political War, but for anyone who hasn’t, let me urge you put Horowitz at the top of your reading list. It’s most unlikely that you’ll fully understand today’s liberalism/progressivism before you read David Horowitz.

Bonus: Both books are available as audio books, so you can listen in your car.

petefrt on January 7, 2009 at 8:04 PM

Playing offense doesn’t just mean find boxes of ballots in car trunks. Coleman needed to file IN A TIMELY FASHION a challenge to many “improperly rejected ballots” that should have favored him. His failure to do this probably cost him the seat and is an amazing oversight IMHO.

Pythagoras on January 7, 2009 at 9:18 PM

Anyone that can not beat Frankin in a general election should be laughed out of court by the judges themselves.

David in ATL on January 7, 2009 at 10:55 PM

Thank you Ed for posting rebuttals to the allegations of fraud and cheating. Those claims have been just claims, and if they are true they will be determined during the election contest process, which is exactly as it should be.

One example is the claims of there being greater vote totals than voters who signed in on election day due to double counting. This has been repeated many times, most noticeably by the WSJ editorial, without any specific evidence to back it up; in fact, the Coleman campaign would have presented this evidence to the Supreme Court already if they had this evidence. Now, this claim may be true, but the Court correctly ruled that this would be determined during the election contest, not during the recount. So now there will be a fact-finding process, and we’ll know the answer. No need to make claims about cheating or fraud here; if there was double counting then this will be determined and corrected, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

tneloms on January 7, 2009 at 11:04 PM

Wait,wait – “finding” hundreds of votes in people’s cars, attics, underwear drawers… with dates stamped a few days before the election… this constitutes “outhustled and outsmarted”?

Please.

Midas on January 8, 2009 at 12:36 AM

I thought you people were against frivolous lawsuits.

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM

So you define a frivolous lawsuit as one that might have an outcome you don’t like?

MarkTheGreat on January 8, 2009 at 9:11 AM