Wednesday, January 7, 2009

As expected, Coleman files suit in Minnesota Senate recount

Incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman has filed suit over gross inconsistencies in the way the Minnesota Canvasing Board dealt with voting problems. Due to Minnesota law, the seat cannot be filled if there are legal challenges on the outcome.

According to reports, two counties experienced differences in the hand counted and computer counted results. Remarkably, the Canvasing Board used two different standards in recognizing the official count, to the benefit of Coleman's challenger, alleged comedian Al Franken.

The Canvasing Board allowed the computer count (which meant a net gain for Franken) in one county and the hand count (which meant -- you guessed it-- a net gain for Franken) in the other. The board's decision to pick and choose which method (and ultimately which result) to recognize in different counties is questionable to say the least.

Under Minnesota law, election officials are required to make a duplicate ballot if the original is damaged during Election Night counting. Officials are supposed to mark these as "duplicate" and segregate the original ballots. But it appears some officials may have failed to mark ballots as duplicates, which are now being counted in addition to the originals. This helps explain why more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote. By some estimates this double counting has yielded Mr. Franken an additional 80 to 100 votes. Last month, Mr. Franken's campaign charged that one Hennepin County (Minneapolis) precinct had "lost" 133 votes, since the hand recount showed fewer ballots than machine votes recorded on Election Night. Though there is no proof to this missing vote charge -- officials may have accidentally run the ballots through the machine twice on Election Night -- the Canvassing Board chose to go with the Election Night total, rather than the actual number of ballots in the recount. That decision gave Mr. Franken a gain of 46 votes. Meanwhile, a Ramsey County precinct ended up with 177 more ballots than there were recorded votes on Election Night. In that case, the board decided to go with the extra ballots, rather than the Election Night total, even though the county is now showing more ballots than voters in the precinct. This gave Mr. Franken a net gain of 37 votes, which means he's benefited both ways from the board's inconsistency.
(From the Jan.5 Wall Street Journal)

No comments: