Friday, December 12, 2008

Franken Campaign Gains Big Win

Today was a big day in Minnesota regarding the Franken-Coleman senate race. I have to admit that I had begun to fear that Coleman was going to pull this race out. That Minnesota was going to have a senator who in the next year would be facing Federal indictments for corruption. I have met Norm Coleman, and he is as oily as he appears. Minnesota really does not want this corrupt little man as a senator. That is why today's news is so good. Al Franken's chances of winning the Minnesota recount may have just gone up astronomically. The state canvassing board in Minnesota got together this morning to determine whether to count improperly rejected absentee ballots. For Al Franken, obviously, the goal was to have the ballots included.

The canvassing board members agreed, making the Democrat's chances of victory that much more likely. Eric Kleefeld explained that Franken's chances of winning "may have just gone up astronomically."

The state canvassing board just voted unanimously that absentee ballots that were initially rejected because of clerical errors -- and the current estimate from the hearing is that there could be nearly 1,600 of them, based on some extrapolation -- should be counted, probably the single biggest issue that the Franken campaign has been hammering ever since this recount began.

The board can't directly order the county officials to do the counting, only making a formal request to go back and count the votes and then submit amended totals. But many counties have already begun or finished the process of sorting the rejected absentees at the board's request, and board members did castigate any election officials who wouldn't do so, with some of them even leaving open the option of seeking a court order if necessary.

Because of all that, it seems very likely that the vast majority of these ballots will be counted before this is over -- and it could possibly seal the deal for Franken. Pre-election polling showed him winning the overall pool of absentee ballots by a solid margin, so it seems pretty reasonable to assume that the newly-counted votes will break for Al. If that proves to be correct, Franken will probably pull ahead of Norm Coleman and win the election.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has more on this morning's meeting. They report that the Coleman campaign is asking the state Supreme Court that the counting of rejected absentee ballots be halted until a standard procedure is established. It looks like 13 percent of the rejected absentee ballots were tossed improperly, which would mean that nearly 1,600 absentee ballots were wrongfully set aside. Consideing the margin between Coleman and Franken, that number could be huge. No wonder the Coleman campaign is working its ass off to keep these votes from being counted, even though they were tossed improperly.

At the same time the two campaigns are now challenging a combined total of 4,472 Election Day ballots that have been reviewed during the statewide recount.

Also the issue of the 133 mystery ballots was brought before the board. Minneapolis elections director Cindy Reichert, who reviewed the futile search for 133 missing ballots that disappeared from the Minneapolis voting office. Franken's campaign had lodged a protest over the 133 votes, while the Coleman campaign argued there was no proof the votes actually exsisted. Reichert reported to the board, "We determined definitively the ballots were missing." She said the idea that the ballots may have been fed in twice -- creating an inflated overall vote total -- is not a viable theory.

Reichert recommended that the board accept the number of votes in the precinct counted on Election Night: 2,028. Good news for the Franken campaign was that the board accepted Reichert's request. However, board member Magnuson, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, said the matter would "no doubt" be headed to court.
Now that last bit is a bit sobering. This race is nowhere near over, but after a week of bad news, Al Franken got some much needed good news today.

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