MN Court's Friday 13th Decision Might Haunt

Posted: Feb 18, 2009 3:10 PM
MN Court's Friday 13th Decision Might Haunt

The 3-judge panel overseeing the ongoing recount between Norm Coleman and Al Franken for Minnesota’s Senate seat made a ruling last week they may regret.

The court ruled on Friday the 13th that 13 of the 17 determined categories of rejected absentee ballots would no longer be accepted for examination in the recount.

What's wrong with that?

Well, just three days earlier a pool of ballots were accepted that contained ballots similar to those that were ruled unacceptable by the court on the 13th. The Coleman campaign argues “scores” of the 933 ballots opened on January 3rd would have been counted, too.

Coleman lawyer Ben Ginsberg said the court has created “a real problem for itself and the reliability of these proceedings,” in a statement released Wednesday.

Indeed. In order for anyone to be legally named as Minnesota’s Senator, the court will have to certify all legally cast ballots. Under their own standards, by way of the Friday the 13th ruling, the court has conceded illegal ballots have been included in their counts.

The Coleman campaign has asked the court to repeal their decision, but their appeal was rejected Wednesday.

“The net effect of the court’s February 13th ruling, and their decision today to not reconsider this ruling, is a legal quagmire that makes ascertaining a final, legitimate result to this election even more difficult,” Ginsberg said. The Coleman team maintain that a consistent standard be applied in ballot counting and more categories of rejected absentee ballots must be accepted.

The court’s ruling reducing the pool of rejected ballots to be considered from roughly 4,700 to 3,500. The pool is still large enough, however, to give Coleman lots of room to pull ahead of Franken.

After the election Coleman was more than 700 votes ahead of Franken, but slim enough to trigger a recount. At this stage in the recount Franken is ahead of Coleman by 225 ballots.