Anyone following the recount has no doubt heard the bluster and bravado regularly coming from the Al Franken campaign. However, in recent days, Franken and his Washington legal team have seemed awfully desperate for a campaign that is trying to convince people they are winning. They have now tried to shove Al Franken onto the Senate floor through three separate venues – only be to be rebuffed and delayed because their effort clearly violates Minnesota law.
Why, if they claim to have a lead, are they so desperately anxious to put Al Franken in a Senate seat?
Simple: They know Norm Coleman is going to win the election contest. And here’s why:
Norm Coleman won on election night and he continued to lead throughout the administrative canvassing process that followed. In the next stage – the administrative recount – Minnesota law restricted what the state Canvassing Board could consider, and in the end the Board certified numbers that are premature, inaccurate and not valid.
Minnesota election law specifically leaves these and other unresolved issues for the contest phase, which is just getting underway and will be tried before a three-judge panel at the end of January. During that contest, Al Franken’s lead will disappear and Norm Coleman will be declared the winner when the following errors are corrected.
First is the issue of wrongly rejected absentee ballots. In the election some 12,000 absentee ballots were rejected – thousands of which were improperly rejected. During the recount, the only improperly rejected absentee ballots that were counted came overwhelmingly from Democrat areas – which skewed the results exponentially in Franken’s favor. The reality is that inconsistent standards were applied in different locations throughout the state – meaning that certain types of ballots that were counted from Franken areas were left uncounted in Coleman areas. When a consistent standard is applied – and ballots still uncounted in Coleman areas come in – Norm Coleman will gain far greater votes than Franken.
Secondly, and perhaps most alarming, is the fact that at least 150 ballots – mostly from precincts in heavily-Democratic Minneapolis – were double-counted during the recount. The double-counting of these votes netted Franken over 100 votes. The State Canvassing Board conducting the recount acknowledged this was likely an occurrence – as did local election officials in Minneapolis – and said this needed to be examined in a contest. Simply put, many precincts have more votes than voters. This clearly violates the Constitutional right of “one person, one vote – and when this] problem is rectified Al Franken’s margin will drop even further.
Third, in one Minneapolis precinct, 133 allegedly “missing ballots supposedly tallied on election night but which were never found during the recount process were counted, which again inflated Franken’s totals by over 40 votes. Rather than following Minnesota precedent and law by tallying only the ballots that were actually counted, the board reverted to election night tapes. However, these ballots may very well have never existed – and the contest will provide a forum to ensure Franken doesn’t benefit from votes that never actually took place.
Fourth, “newly discovered ballots, which appeared for the first time during the recount, were never counted on election night but which were included in the canvassing board’s totals. So, rather than sticking with election night totals like they did in the aforementioned Minneapolis precinct, they counted these ballots – again greatly benefitting Franken’s totals.
The discovery phase for the election contest, which will begin the last week of January and will be heard before a three-judge panel, has reportedly already started. It will likely include the opportunity to put election officials under oath for the first time and will provide the opportunity to actually investigate these errors and get it right.
The reality is Franken’s desperate ploy to get himself seated on the basis of Canvassing Board numbers Minnesota law, the Supreme Court, the Canvassing Board and even Franken’s campaign acknowledge to be inaccurate indicate Franken’s realization that his high water mark has come and gone. Reality is setting in, and the facts will show that Norm Coleman will, in due time, be seated as Minnesota's United States Senator.