8
   

Funny Business in Minnesota

 
 
Woiyo9
 
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 11:41 am
Strange things keep happening in Minnesota, where the disputed recount in the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken may be nearing a dubious outcome. Thanks to the machinations of Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and a meek state Canvassing Board, Mr. Franken may emerge as an illegitimate victor.

Mr. Franken started the recount 215 votes behind Senator Coleman, but he now claims a 225-vote lead and suddenly the man who was insisting on "counting every vote" wants to shut the process down. He's getting help from Mr. Ritchie and his four fellow Canvassing Board members, who have delivered inconsistent rulings and are ignoring glaring problems with the tallies.

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.

This disenfranchises Minnesotans whose vote counted only once. And one Canvassing Board member, State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, has acknowledged that "very likely there was a double counting." Yet the board insists that it lacks the authority to question local officials and it is merely adding the inflated numbers to the totals.

In other cases, the board has been flagrantly inconsistent. 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.
The Opinion Journal Widget

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.

And then there are the absentee ballots. The Franken campaign initially howled that some absentee votes had been erroneously rejected by local officials. Counties were supposed to review their absentees and create a list of those they believed were mistakenly rejected. Many Franken-leaning counties did so, submitting 1,350 ballots to include in the results. But many Coleman-leaning counties have yet to complete a re-examination. Despite this lack of uniformity, and though the state Supreme Court has yet to rule on a Coleman request to standardize this absentee review, Mr. Ritchie's office nonetheless plowed through the incomplete pile of 1,350 absentees this weekend, padding Mr. Franken's edge by a further 176 votes.
In Today's Opinion Journal
Both campaigns have also suggested that Mr. Ritchie's office made mistakes in tabulating votes that had been challenged by either of the campaigns. And the Canvassing Board appears to have applied inconsistent standards in how it decided some of these challenged votes -- in ways that, again on net, have favored Mr. Franken.

The question is how the board can certify a fair and accurate election result given these multiple recount problems. Yet that is precisely what the five members seem prepared to do when they meet today. Some members seem to have concluded that because one of the candidates will challenge the result in any event, why not get on with it and leave it to the courts? Mr. Coleman will certainly have grounds to contest the result in court, but he'll be at a disadvantage given that courts are understandably reluctant to overrule a certified outcome.

Meanwhile, Minnesota's other Senator, Amy Klobuchar, is already saying her fellow Democrats should seat Mr. Franken when the 111th Congress begins this week if the Canvassing Board certifies him as the winner. This contradicts Minnesota law, which says the state cannot award a certificate of election if one party contests the results. Ms. Klobuchar is trying to create the public perception of a fait accompli, all the better to make Mr. Coleman look like a sore loser and build pressure on him to drop his legal challenge despite the funny recount business.

Minnesotans like to think that their state isn't like New Jersey or Louisiana, and typically it isn't. But we can't recall a similar recount involving optical scanning machines that has changed so many votes, and in which nearly every crucial decision worked to the advantage of the same candidate. The Coleman campaign clearly misjudged the politics here, and the apparent willingness of a partisan like Mr. Ritchie to help his preferred candidate, Mr. Franken. If the Canvassing Board certifies Mr. Franken as the winner based on the current count, it will be anointing a tainted and undeserving Senator.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123111967642552909.html

New Year...Same Old Bullshit!
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:04 pm
@Woiyo9,
I wish a reliable polling method could be established. It's very frustrating to not know who "actually" won an election.

I don't see why they can't design a machine that will scan a vote and tally it and then store the paper record somewhere for a confirmation if necessary. And if the machine can't scan the vote properly, then the ballot should be rejected and the voter immediately asked to fill in another ballot.
0 Replies
 
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:33 pm
@Woiyo9,
Woiyo9 wrote:
If the Canvassing Board certifies Mr. Franken as the winner based on the current count, it will be anointing a tainted and undeserving Senator.


Al Franken was always going to be a "tainted and undeserving Senator" whether that outcome was from a legitimate or an illegitimate process.

One point in favor of Minnesota (or maybe its the Star Tribune) is their willingness to scan and show each disputed ballot on their web site, thus allowing both parties as well as the universe of "truth-telling" bloggers to make their own determinations on the validity or invalidity of the recount process.

What surprises me somewhat is that if obvious machinations were going on, that would be quite apparent. However in looking at the ballots in question from the website, it appears more likely to me that Coleman just employed the wrong strategy for identifying ballots that should be evaluated by the canvassing board. You will find hundreds of very clear votes for Coleman that had some kind of retracted "identifying mark" that per Minnesota law were disqualified. On the other hand, there are very few obviously Franken ballots which were disqualified for "identifying marks". Instead Franken appears to have made most of his gains by arguing double votes...i.e. the voter had clearly marked a vote for both candidates, but then drew an X thru the Coleman oval, which the canvassing board interpreted as a retraction of their vote for Coleman.

Minnesota law basically concurs with the board's interpretation, despite the apparent unfairness of disenfranchising any number of Coleman voters who stupidly indicated their initials or signature by their vote.

Somehow I can't conceive that Coleman voter's had a predominant inclination to add identifying marks (which is illegal) while Franken voters had the predominant inclination to mark both and then "erase" the Coleman over-vote (which is legal). Instead, I think the Coleman team leaned on the clear intent argument (even with an identifying mark) but bet wrong on which argument would hold the most water with the Board.
parados
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:48 pm
@Woiyo9,
Quote:
New Year...Same Old Bullshit!

Most of the Bullshit is in your post.

The WSJ is rather selective in its facts if it can even be called facts.

Quote:
This helps explain why more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote
Precincts count absentee ballots but the voter doesn't sign in to vote. The argument is specious if not down right disingenuous when it makes that claim.

Quote:
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

Another specious claim. The ballots are placed in envelopes on election night. The envelopes are numbered. The missing envelope is marked "1 of 5." It's rather hard to argue they were run twice since the envelopes say there should be 5 but the first of the 5 is missing. Why didn't the WSJ check the ballot count with the voters signed in for that precinct?

Quote:
The Coleman campaign clearly misjudged the politics here, and the apparent willingness of a partisan like Mr. Ritchie to help his preferred candidate, Mr. Franken. If the Canvassing Board certifies Mr. Franken as the winner based on the current count, it will be anointing a tainted and undeserving Senator.
Wow. Talk about not understanding the process. Ritchie did NOT make the decisions alone nor can he do so. The canvassing board consists of Ritchie and 4 judges, 2 from the MN Supreme Court and 2 circuit judges. 2 of the judges were appointed by Republicans, one by Jesse Ventura, an independent and the last one by democrat. All the decisions by the board have been unanimous.

The WSJ piece is nothing but Bullshit.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:52 pm
@parados,
The WSJ is a very old article and every thing has changed since then.

BBB
parados
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:56 pm
@slkshock7,
Quote:
One point in favor of Minnesota (or maybe its the Star Tribune) is their willingness to scan and show each disputed ballot on their web site

It was that "partisan" secretary of state that put all the ballots on the web so everyone could view them.

The StarTrib just linked to them.
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:57 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
The WSJ piece is new based on old articles.

It cites the 225 vote lead by Franken which occurred on Saturday.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 12:59 pm
@parados,
You are right!

BBB
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 04:03 pm
This election was basically a tie... and someone has to win. The process that happened was transparent and as fair as any.

Since the incumbent has the advantages, the fact that the challenger got it this close means that he deserves the seat. The voters are clearly ready for someone new.

That's politics... now stop whining.


Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 04:07 pm
@ebrown p,
They'll never stop whining. Get ready for years of it.

Cycloptichorn
H2O MAN
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 04:26 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:

They'll never stop whining. Get ready for years of it.



That's exactly how we all feel about Left wing Loons such as yourself.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 05:14 pm
@H2O MAN,
Quote:

That's exactly how we all feel about Left wing Loons such as yourself.


The very real difference is the total absence of anything remotely resembling thought from you, okie, woiyo, ... .

You clowns continually embarass yourselves with no facts, distortions, outright lies, ...

parados
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 06:15 pm
I was curious how the WSJ could get so screwy with facts and then I recalled that they were bought by Murdoch. So much for his promise of editorial integrity.
0 Replies
 
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 09:23 pm
What I don't understand is the logic behind Minnesota's law that ballots with identifying marks should not be counted. If the vote for Coleman is very apparent, what difference does it make if the voter signed the ballot? Isn't the voter intent clearly discernible as required by the law? What is it about the signature that somehow invalidates the ballot?

Would seem to me that an easy way for Coleman to possibly still pull this one out is to contact some of those folks with "identifying marks" on their ballots and get them to sue the Canvassing board on grounds that they are being disenfranchised by this ridiculous law. With all these Democratic cries of "count every vote" since 2000, I don't see how the lawsuit could fail. This would set in motion a court order to reevaluate the disputed ballots once again, this time allowing the numerous Coleman signed ballots and the count would (fr0m my limited analysis) easily fall in Coleman's favor.
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 09:29 pm
And here's the statment from Coleman's lawyers...

Quote:
STATEMENT FROM COLEMAN FOR SENATE COUNSEL TONY TRIMBLE
ST. PAUL - Coleman for Senate Counsel Tony Trimble today issued the following statement:

The actions today by the Canvassing Board are but the first step in what, unfortunately, will now have to be a longer process. This process isn’t at the end; it is now just at the beginning. We will contest the results of the Canvassing Board -- otherwise, literally millions of Minnesotans will be disenfranchised.

While we appreciate the effort of this board to do the work, the reality is that any certification of vote totals at this point is only preliminary. As this Canvassing Board has recognized, there still exist serious problems with inconsistencies in the administrative recount, and therefore in the validity and reliability of the numbers certified today. There can be no count that is accurate or valid when 654 potentially valid absentee votes remain disenfranchised and when some votes are counted twice " leading to a violation of one of the most sacred principles of our constitution " “One person, One vote.”

And, there can be no justification to report out a total when 133 votes were included in a count where there are not ballots to support them. Or when a batch of votes were not counted on Election Night, but were miraculously “found” during the recount and included.

If the Canvassing Board had resolved all these issues, then the process might be completed. But the Board has deferred the resolution of those issues for the contest phase provided for in Minnesota law. Since the process is far from complete, there can be no confidence in the current results of the United States Senate Recount, and we will file a contest within the next 24 hours to promptly correct those problems and inaccuracies. The Supreme Court ruling today also emphasizes that that’s what we must do to provide an accurate count for this election.

Senator Coleman is adamant that we not wait a moment longer than necessary to ensure that the election be completed with accuracy and validity " and most importantly, without disenfranchising Minnesota voters or having a cloud remain over the results.

The utter lack of uniformity in the treatment of rejected absentee ballots, resulting in the disenfranchising of voters, is perhaps the most troublesome aspect of the recount. Similar ballots were treated differently by different counties. This creates an Equal Protection violation that fatally taints any result that includes these ballots. This was precisely what the Minnesota Supreme Court order said to avoid.

Unfortunately, with this announcement today, numerous Minnesotans will be wrongly disenfranchised because their votes are not counted. Mr. Franken and his campaign for purely political reasons no longer want to “count all the votes”. And, it is with great disappointment that we’ve seen senior members of the Secretary of State’s Office contributing to the process being broken. When senior members of the Secretary of State’s office, charged with ensuring a fair and balanced process, engage in acts which undermine that neutrality, all of us must be concerned.

The fact is the Canvassing Board’s current totals are invalid and unreliable because:

• Original and Duplicate ballots have been double counted " even members of the Canvassing Board acknowledge this is a serious issue, yet nothing was resolved " instead, double counted votes were simply added to their recount totals.

• Newly Discovered ballots, which appeared for the first time during the recount and are included in the Canvassing Board totals without proper reconciliation to the number of voters signed into the precincts on Election Day.

• Missing Ballots supposedly tallied on election night that could not be found during the recount process are included in the Canvassing Board count contrary to Minnesota precedent.

• And again, an inconsistent treatment of challenged ballots " an inconsistent treatment of wrongfully rejected absentee ballots " and an inconsistent treatment of the campaign by the very office charged with coordinating this recount simply results in a process that is broken.

The recount was supposed to be a recount " fair and reasoned " and one that would retain the credibility of the outcome of this election. However, it ceased being that the day that duplicate ballots and “missing ballots” were included in the count, and simply became more and more broken each and every day.

We had hoped that the board would refrain from reporting out with unanimity a recount total today. Since that did not happen, we will file an election contest within the next 24 hours. It will be based upon the issues I have outlined, as well as the lack of inclusion of 654 additional ballots that we believe should be a part of this recount and the very serious issue of included double counted votes that disenfranchises Minnesotans.

Our goal and obligation should be to get an accurate and valid vote as quickly as possible, and that is our reason for acting with urgency. Minnesotans ought to be able to expect that an accurate and valid recount would have ensured two United States Senators from Minnesota tomorrow. However, because the process is broken that will not happen.

JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jan, 2009 10:03 pm
@slkshock7,
Coleman, what a little pussy! He should have been removed from the Senate after George Galloway knocked the tar out of him in those BS Senate hearings.

0 Replies
 
Woiyo9
 
  0  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 07:17 am
@JTT,
As usual JTT, you miss the whole ******* point. You are so wrapped up in your little liberal fantasy land you overlook at how this Nation still has problems running elections.

Your lame attempt to "kill the messenger" overlooks the real message.

Yet, I find it humorous at how stupid you and your little friends are.
H2O MAN
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 07:52 am


I guess Minnesota deserves Franken.

http://www.novatownhall.com/blog/graphics/franken_diaper.jpg
parados
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 08:01 am
@slkshock7,
The vote is supposed to be secret and the law says as much.

What analysis did you do to figure out that Coleman would win? Of the over 6000 total disputed ballots there were only 507 that didn't count for a Franken or Coleman. Of those, the majority were not rejected for identifying marks. Of that over 6000, the majority of the contests were withdrawn by the candidates. Because the candidate withdrew their challenge, I doubt they would have a legal case on how the ballots were counted.

This is an interesting document because it lays out HOW the recount is to be done and how ballots should be counted before any ballots were recounted. You will notice that the canvas board followed this guide. If there were issues with the process, why wasn't it contested before it was started?
http://www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/recount_guide_2008.pdf
parados
 
  3  
Reply Tue 6 Jan, 2009 08:03 am
@Woiyo9,
What message Woiyo? You are only whining because of which candidate is losing.

There is no message there other than you don't understand the process, the facts, or the reality.
 

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