Minnesota Senate Recount Day 7 (updated)
The Minnesota Senate race recount gets stupid today. First, the challenges are simply out of control. At the current rate, we'll break 7,500 and possibly approach 8,000, but each day the rate increases so do I hear 10K? Secondly, the Recount Canvassing Board punted the decision on the rejected absentee ballots to the courts.
Norm's lead range: 84 to 238.
6,400 rejected absentee ballots yet to be resolved.
|MN-SEN race recount|
|Updated every evening at 8pm|
|Challenged Franken ballots||2448||0.10%|
|Challenged Coleman ballots||2292||0.09%|
This is 86.04% of votes counted out of 2,885,502 votes cast on November 4th. The recount is on holiday until Monday.
First, let's do the challenged ballot math:
- 5.42% ballots recounted today.
- 1,146 challenges today.
- 1146 divided by 5.42% = 211 challenges per 1% recounted.
- 13.96% remains to be counted.
- 13.96% + 211 = 2,946.
- 4,740 already challenged ballots + 2,946 = 7,686.
When you look at yesterday's rate then compare to the day prior, the challenges are skyrocketing. 10K challenges is simply ridiculous and makes a mockery of the process.
The big question is will the two campaigns agree upon a method to eliminate the silliest challenges? Will they acquiesce to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's request to self-police and back down on the more frivolous challenges?
The Canvassing Board decided to not decide on the rejected absentee ballots. They punted it to the courts to decide. I'm guessing a court challenge by the Franken campaign is imminent.
The five-member Canvassing Board, which consists of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, two Minnesota Supreme Court justices and two Ramsey County judges, said it wasn't its role to determine whether any absentee ballots were wrongly rejected.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson said the board wasn't determining whether the ballots should be counted, but instead was fulfilling its role under state law.
"We want to make sure that every vote is counted, and we will not stand in the way of having a determination as to whether a vote was legally cast or not," said Magnuson. "It is simply not, however, a function that we are either charged with or are equipped to do."
Magnuson said the appropriate recourse for voters who think their ballots were wrongly rejected is to take the issue to court. In fact, several board members suggested that's where they think the entire matter will end up.
Here's a statement from the Franken campaign I received via email:
We are obviously disappointed with the Board's initial decision to not count rejected absentee ballots wholesale. However, we were hearted that members of the Board noted disenfranchisement would be the result, and most of them noted their own grave concerns about that consequence.
But most importantly, the Franken campaign is encouraged that the Board is going to have further deliberations next week, preventing at least some of the absentee voters from being disenfranchised, including those rejected for obvious errors.
As we have said all along these votes will be counted, and based on today's meeting, we remain more confident than ever that that is true. Whether it is at the county level, before the Canvass Board, before the courts, or before the United States Senate, we don't know yet. But we remain confident these votes will be counted. The Board's consensus only strengthens our resolve.
To be clear, the Franken campaign's argument all along is that every Minnesotan who cast a vote -- either in person or via absentee -- ought to have that vote counted. We have presented several instances of voters who properly cast a ballot, but haven't had it counted.
The always incisive Dave Mindeman makes an excellent point on the significance of the Canvassing Board's punting of the rejected absentee ballots. He puts it all in perspective that the punt is not necessarily a bad thing:
Maybe. But looking at the long term, maybe not.
The Coleman campaign has been utilizing the liberal ballot challenge methodology to maintain their narrow lead in the visible sense. By that, I mean that the actual difference between Coleman and Franken lies buried in the ultimate determination of the challenged ballots. The Franken campaign has been telling us that the actual difference is less than 100 votes.
OK, let's say that is correct. After the canvassing board goes through those challenges and comes back with a number, they will attempt to certify the election.
If Franken is still behind by a small number, which looks likely at the moment, he will then have to issue a court challenge that either blocks the certification or contests the election if certified.
But he will need a legal basis to make that challenge. And he has the perfect one in those absentee ballots. With over 12,000 ballots rejected, there most certainly are a number of them that were wrongly rejected. How many, we don't know, but certainly enough to warrant an examination. The justices on the canvassing board admitted that those wrongly rejected ballots do have merit as legally cast votes.
The legal wrangling over this issue could push the court case into January and the U.S. Senate will be in session.
The longer the case drags out, the more likely that the United States Senate will want to exercise their authority to make the final determination. The Coleman campaign is somewhat fearful of this ultimate decider scenario -- but as long as the Franken campaign can make a case for uncounted votes, the Senate as final arbitor becomes the end of final choice.
Thanks for the perspective, Dave.