Minnesota Senate Recount Day 4
A few counties worked this weekend in the Minnesota Senate recount. The Al Franken and Norm Coleman campaigns challenged ballots at an even higher rate yesterday. As a result of increased Republican challenges, Norm's lead increased from 115 to 167. At this rate I calculate that we'll reach 4,000 challenged ballots. There was even less controversy, but that didn't stop the media from trying to gin one up.
|MN-SEN race recount|
|Updated every evening at 8pm|
|Challenged Franken ballots||948||0.05%|
|Challenged Coleman ballots||945||0.05%|
This is 65.65% of votes counted out of 2,885,502 votes cast on November 4th.
The biggest county doing the business yesterday was Dakota which encompasses the southern Twin Cities suburbs. There were several counties up in the northwest that performed recounts yesterday, here's some insight into what happened up there.
Otherwise, the results did not change from Nov. 4, when Coleman won in the county with 1,814 votes to Franken’s 1,074.
Most challenges were for stray marks on the ballot that observers called “distinguishable marks.” In others, the challengers questioned the voters’ intent.
By comparison, Norman County, also with about 3,400 voters, had no challenges when workers counted ballots Wednesday.
Beyer said some of the challenges from both parties she observed were “very frivolous.”
“It seemed like they wanted to challenge just to send something to the Canvassing Board,” Beyer said.
(Detroit Lakes Online)
By employing a strategy of challenging split votes (like McCain-Franken splits), any extraneous marks on the ballot (even on the back of the ballot) or, it seems, any ballot they don't like, the Republicans hope to make it appear that Norm has a lead when the Canvassing Board convenes on December 16th. The Franken campaign is matching their challenge rate.
Yesterday's challenge rate extrapolated for the remaining 34% of the recounts indicates there could be in excess of 2,500 challenges bringing the total challenged ballots to over 4,000.
- 139,429 votes recounted yesterday with 368 challenges.
- 139,429 votes is 4.79% of the total.
- Challenge rate extrapolated for the remaining 34.35% = 2,639.
What are some examples of the challenged ballots? Check out MPR.
So what is the significance of Norm's lead increasing to 167? It means that this race will be decided by the Canvassing Board as they resolve challenges. Part of their decision will be how they resolve the rejected absentee ballots.
A Star Tribune analysis of rejected absentee ballot lists collected from 25 of the state's 87 counties shows that 2,066 would-be absentee voters were excluded from initial vote tallies in just those counties. The total does not include Hennepin County, home to about one quarter of the state's population, or several other metro counties.
The other factor making Norm's lead meaningless is undervotes. These are ballots where the voter voted for President, but the machine indicated no vote in the Senate race. We can't get an indication of how many undervotes are among the challenged ballots and with Hennepin County at 28% complete, I think there are lots of undercounts yet to be factored in. There were approximately 30,000 undervotes and the vast majority are in Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis counties.
Of course, we also don't know how many of these undervotes have yet been recounted.
Finally, if there is no real controversy, why not make some up. The Detroit Lakes newspaper ran with an article entitled "Recount observer on two sides -- things get a little heated during Wilkin County recount". Okay, the editors could have made the title more sensational ... I'll admit it.
Maggie Vertin, who spent two days in Fergus Falls for Otter Tail County’s recount as an observer for Franken, was one of eight volunteers who assisted with the Wilkin County effort in Breckenridge.
The truth is this sort of thing happens more than you'd think. Volunteers are often hard to find. When someone is willing ... there's that saying about gift-horses ... and in the end even the Republicans saw no unethical behavior once the volunteer did her job.
That's right, when a Coleman volunteer expresses an honest opinion that might not jibe with the Republican talking points of calling all aspects of the recount into question, he asks to remain anonymous.