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Archive for November, 2008

I was reading this article in the Bemidji Pioneer when I got stopped dead in my tracks. Here’s what stopped me:

“The main thing is we can look at the budget as just solving the math problem, making it back to zero and equaling it out,” she said. “But the real challenge is going to be investing in the sorts of areas that we need to make Minnesota stronger in the next 10 years.”

TRANSLATION: This budget deficit is restricting our ability to repay our political allies spend like spendaholics.

When the budget deficit is released this Thursday, it’ll likely show a deficit north of $4 billion. In that setting, one would think that austerity would be the order of the day. Ms. Kelliher has just said that they want to increase spending.

Don’t buy into the notion that she’s just talking about ensuring adequate funding of education. That isn’t what she’s talking about here. She’s talking about adding new programs into the mix. That means increasing taxes.

This deficit would’ve been considerably bigger if the House GOP hadn’t sustained Gov. Pawlenty’s vetoes in 2007. Had the DFL gotten their way, spending for that budget period would’ve increased by 17 percent instead of the 9 percent that got signed into law. That’s because the DFL didn’t want to hear the word prioritize.

Steve Gottwalt has been a constant advocate for prioritizing spending. That mindset will be especially important this year because we’ll need to spend money wisely.

Creating a business-friendly climate is the biggest thing that’ll make Minnesota stronger over the next decade. Raising taxes will make things infinitely worse. Think Jennifer Granholm’s Michigan. Cutting taxes will give businesses an incentive to not leave the state. Not only that but it’ll give them the incentive they need to actually invest in their businesses.

There’s an LTE in this morning’s St. Cloud Times dealing with the issue of clean energy. This alarming statement is the most appalling part of the LTE:

In rebuilding our economy Congress and President-elect Barack Obama should use the opportunity to shift from a pollution-based economy to a 100 percent clean energy economy.

Eliminating fossil fuels shouldn’t be our goal but let’s play devil’s advocate and say that’s our goal. Shouldn’t natural gas, which is an extremely clean form of energy, be part of the solution? Theoretically, companies would have to work on the technology while others would manufacture that type of vehicle.

Companies won’t flock to Minnesota to do either of those things because Minnesota’s business climate is terrible. Companies aren’t expanding as it is. Why would they want to move here?

Another thing that’s imperative is that we eliminate plans to ‘reform’ health care by passing more mandates or giving state government more control of it. Giving people the incentive to invest in HSAs, wellness programs and their own custom-designed insurance plans will have a sibstantially greater impact on improving people’s health than anything that the DFL-dominated legislature will offer.

This next part is telling about how screwed up the DFL’s priorities are:

The real challenge in a budget deficit, Kelliher said, “is to make sure you’re actually paying attention to the things that are going to make you stronger over time. I actually have a little hope that maybe we can all get together and determine what some of those long-term goals are.”

One area of investment would be in early childhood education, she said, “getting all 5-year-olds ready for kindergarten. That would be a good goal agree to all together and start to drive some decision-making toward that.”

Why isn’t creating a business-friendly climate important to the DFL? What good are well-educated children if there aren’t Minnesota jobs waiting for them? This is typical DFL thinking. They think that a public works-based economic system is a great thing. The problem with that theory is that that’s the system that’s gotten us in trouble every couple of years.

Relying on a public works-oriented model is what’s created the feast-then-famine swings in budget deficits/surpluses. Based on what’s happened the last 3 budget cycles, it appears that the DFL isn’t interested in an entrepreneur-based economic model. As long as we aren’t cutting taxes, companies don’t have an incentive to create the next Microsoft here in Minnesota.

Frankly, I’m amazed that more businesses haven’t moved across the border into South Dakota. If we don’t stop increasing taxes on small businesses, the exodus from Minnesota will devastate Minnesota’s economy. Again, I’ll just point to Michigan, which was “in a one state recession” for most of the Bush administration.

Just ask yourself if that’s the type of state you want to live in. If it isn’t, then you need to start pushing back against the DFL’s disastrous economic policies.

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Based on this article by the AP’s Brian Bakst, it sounds like Marc Elias is tring to persuade Harry Reid into setting aside the Minnesota vote for the US Senate currently held by Norm Coleman. The Senate has the right to ignore the will of the people. I’ve said elsewhere, though, that taking that approach would be a major disaster for Senate Democrats. Here’s what Mr. Bakst is reporting:

Marc Elias, the legal chief for Franken, said the campaign won’t appeal the board’s ruling. But for the first time since the recount began a week ago, he publicly mentioned the possibility of the campaign asking the U.S. Senate to weigh in.

“Whether it is at the county level, before the Canvassing Board, before the courts or before the United States Senate, we don’t know yet. But we remain confident these votes will be counted,” Elias said.

The board’s action drew a response from the Senate’s top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid. In a written statement, he called the decision a “cause for great concern.”

“As the process moves forward, Minnesota authorities must ensure that no voter is disenfranchised,” Reid said. “A citizen’s right to have his or her vote counted is fundamental in our democracy.”

Mr. Elias is grandstanding, proving that he’s more adept at PR than he is with the law. I wrote here that Minnesota election law deals with who has authority to issue rulings on rejected ballots. Justice G. Barry Anderson gave a compelling presentation on Minnesota election law. During that presentation, he said that there wasn’t a precedent for recount canvassing boards having that authority. Coleman Campaign Chairman Cullen Sheehan issued this statement:

“This is a stunning admission by the Franken campaign that they are willing to take this process away from Minnesotans if they fail to win the recount. It is even more stunning that the Democratic Senate leader would inject himself into the Minnesota election process. This says that Franken is fully prepared and armed to take this matter to the United States Senate and that the Senate will be receptive, even if Franken fails to succeed in winning the recount. This is a troubling new development. We call upon Al Franken to personally disavow his attorney’s comments, and to commit to Minnesotans that he will not allow this election to be overturned by the leadership of the Democratic Senate. Al Franken owes it to the people of this state to reject any and all efforts to stop a Minnesota Senator from being sworn in on January 6th if Norm Coleman continues to be shown to have won this election after the recount.”

There’s no justification for Franken ignoring the will of We The People of Minnesota. This is proof that this election was purely about Franken’s personal ambition, not about the will of the Minnesotans who voted for Sen. Coleman.

I’d further suggest that the Democrats’ mantra of counting every vote is pure PR. It has nothing to do with reality. It should be amended to this:

Count every vote…except if the voters pick the Republican.

I’m not surprised with Harry Reid’s or Al Franken’s behavior. It’s predictable. Didn’t Harry Reid ignore the will of the people when he refused to schedule debate for drilling on the OCS? At the time, 75+ percent of the American people wanted drilling. Harry Reid ignored them. It sounds like he’s prepared to ignore the votes of almost 1.5 million Minnesotans who voted for Norm Coleman.

Should Harry Reid’s Senate Democrats vote to seat Al Franken without him winning a more votes than Norm Coleman, there will be electoral hell to pay in 2010 and 2012.

If George Mitchell were still Majority Leader, I could picture him floating this trial balloon, then dropping it the minute the American people expressed their outrage. It’s too easy to picture Harry Reid, who is one of the most inept leaders in American history, seeing the outrage, then ignoring it just so he could thump his chest a little.

Let’s remember that he’s the guy that bragged that they’d killed the Patriot Act. Sen. Reid isn’t the brightest bullb in the Senate’s chandelier. That’s why I can’t rule out his making a boneheaded decision on this.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Make no mistake about this: The board just dealt Team Franken’s legal team a significant defeat. As I said in this post, I don’t think this is a surprise for Team Franken. Nonetheless, it isn’t the ruling they wanted.

The Strib and Pi-Press weighed in with their analysis of today’s ruling. Here’s the money portion from the Strib’s article:

The State Canvassing Board, a panel of five arbiters charged with determining the winner in the overtime election tussle between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic rival Al Franken, unanimously voted this morning to deny the Franken campaign’s request that rejected absentee ballots be included in the recount.

During the discussion, the board members stressed that they weren’t rejecting the merits of the arguments made by Franken’s attorneys. They also made it clear they expect the issue to be litigated separately from the recount procedure.

Here’s the Pi-Press’s account:

The canvassing board rejected Franken’s request by a vote of 5-0. The board members are: Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin and Ramsey County Assistant Chief Judge Edward Cleary

There were a total of more than 12,000 rejected absentee ballots, or about 5 percent of the roughly 288,000 absentee ballots attempted to be cast, Ritchie said. That 288,000 figure was a state record.

There is some hope for voters concerned that their ballots were wrongly rejected. The five-member panel was receptive to a proposal from county attorneys to have local election officials to go through their rejected absentee ballots again and look for any that do not meet the state legal criteria for being rejected.

The Canvassing Board didn’t say that these ballots should be summarily rejected. They simply said that their board didn’t have the authority to determine the proper disposition of the ballots. Their vote essentially said that Minnesota election law deals with this possibility quite clearly and that they should follow the rule of law.

As I stated here, Justice Anderson’s comments on the matter were thorough and on point. His presentation was the highlight of the hearing for me.

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9:25– The hearing is scheduled to convene at 9:30 CST. The only recount issue scheduled to be dealt with is whether the Board does or doesn’t have the authority to demand that rejected absentee ballots will be included in the recount. Minnesota Election Law clearly states that that determination must be made by the judiciary. Though I’m not a lawyer, that’s the ruling I expect.

9:28– Mark Ritchie is now calling the hearing to order. Minutes for last week’s hearing have been approved.
9:30– Gary Poser is giving the report on the recounts in SD-16, HD-12B and HD-16A. (Poser botches Alison’s name and Lisa Fobbe’s name.)
9:32– The Canvassing Board just voted to accept Mr. Poser’s report.
9:33– “Attorneys from both parties” believe that they can get together and eliminate most of the challenges.
9:35– Sherburne County election official (Ms. Botzek) says that 800+ ballots were challenged out of 15,000+ ballots being recounted.
9:37– Chief Justice Magnuson sets an ominous tone, saying that both campaigns have a responsibility to make only responsible challenges. Justice G. Barry Anderson concurs.

This has to give Franken pause. Chief Justice Magnuson’s tone was terse.

9:41– Ritchie now dealing with rejected absentee ballots. 288,000+ people cast absentee ballots, 12,000+ were rejected. Ritchie says that “people have stopped me in the hallways” saying that the Canvassing Board doesn’t make

9:44– G. Barry Anderson makes motion to not include rejected absentee ballots in the recount. Justice Anderson says that Minnesota State Statute doesn’t provide authority for dealing with rejected ballots. Justice Anderson further states that there isn’t a precedent saying that the Canvassing Board can make such rulings. He notes that the legislature “didn’t use broad language” in the legislation, citing MSS 204C.31.
9:48– Judge Cleary is now speaking in opposition of Justice Anderson’s opinion. Judge Cleary acknowledges that other states’ courts cases aren’t on point. “An election challenge is sure to follow.”
9:55– Judge Gearin states that it’s a “jurisdictional matter for me”, stating that it isn’t within the Canvassing Board’s authority to rule on the matter. If this holds true, that’s 3 votes in favor of the courts ruling on the rejected ballots.
10:03– Chief Justice Magnuson is stating that the Canvassing Board is “a minsterial body, not an adjudicative body.” “It’s quite clear that we don’t have the authority.” “It’s apparent that we aren’t equipped to deal with this issue.”
10:07– Board approves Ritchie motion that the “Board rejects determining rejected ballots in the recount.”
10:09– They’re now dealing with ballots that accidentally got mixed into the wrong piles of ballots.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

In this morning’s Strib, Kevin Duchshere reports that Team Franken has started shifting its attention towards absentee ballots that were rejected. I suspect that they’ve done this because they understand that they won’t catch Sen. Coleman in the hand recount phase of the process. Here’s what Mr. Duchshere is reporting:

Democrat Al Franken’s campaign last week argued before the Canvassing Board that improperly rejected absentee ballots should be identified and counted and that the board has the authority to do it. The campaign of Republican Sen. Norm Coleman argues that it’s a matter to be decided by the courts.

Team Franken’s assertion that the Canvassing Board has the authority to rule on rejected absentee ballots isn’t an opinion shared by Ken Raschke:

Wrote Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Raschke Jr.: “Courts that have reviewed this issue have opined that rejected absentee or provisional ballots are not cast in an election.” Improperly rejected absentee ballots can be challenged in court, he wrote.

early in the process, Politics In Minnesota (PIM) posted the PDF of Mr. Raschke’s opinion. Here’s the unabridged version of Raschke’s statement:

The purpose and scope of an administrative recount pursuant to Minn. Stat. 204C.35, subd. 3 (2008) is as follows:

Scope of Recount. A recount conducted as provided in this section is limited in scope to the determination of the number of votes validly cast for the office to be recounted. Only the ballots cast in the election and the summary statements certified by election judges may be considered in the recount process.

“Courts that have reviewed this issue have opined that rejected absentee or provisional ballots are not cast in an election.”

John Fund, the foremost authority on election law in American journalism, cites a troubling bit of history here:

Democrats with experience from the Washington recount are now advising Mr. Franken. Paul Berendt, a former chair of the Washington Democratic Party, was in Minneapolis this month. “What I bring to this effort,” he told Oregon Public Radio from the Minneapolis recount office, “is that I understand every single step of this recount process and the things that you need to look for in order to make sure that every vote is counted.”

If the strategy of adding previously rejected ballots to the Minnesota Senate recount is successful, a final outcome could be months away. In 1975, the U.S. Senate refused to accept New Hampshire’s certification that Republican Louis Wyman had won by two votes. The seat was vacant for seven months, with the Senate debate spanning 100 hours and six unsuccessful attempts to break a filibuster and vote on who should be seated. The impasse ended only when a special election was agreed to, which was won by Democrat John Durkin.

If Harry Reid wants to leave Norm’s seat open after Sen. Coleman won the original vote, the machine recount and the manual recount, he’ll have a huge fight on his hands. I predict that the GOP will pressure Democrats, telling them that they’ll face one campaign commercial after another stating that they ignored the will of Minnesota’s voters by ignoring the properly cast votes of millions of Minnesota voters.

If Democrats tried that, the GOP would be justified in saying that the Democratic Party is willing to ignore We The People in order to win a temporary victory. The NRSC most effective campaign would highlight the Democrats’ culture of corruption.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The Coleman campaign has decided it’s time for both sides to put their cards on the table. They’ve done this through this fax from Coleman for Senate Senior Counsel Fritz Knaak to the Franken campaign:

ST. PAUL – The following was faxed to the Franken Campaign by Coleman for Senate Senior Counsel Fritz Knaak this evening:

“It has become apparent that both campaigns are engaged in a mounting game of ballot challenging that serves no useful purpose. This is not the way the recount process was intended to work, and we are trying the patience and goodwill of election officials and volunteers throughout the state. While the Franken Campaign began this morning challenging 25 ballots in one Sherburne County precinct, the vast majority without merit, it’s obvious that our campaign volunteers felt the need to match these growing and unnecessary challenges throughout the day. This is an artificial game which has virtually no bearing on the outcome of this recount as we know that the vast majority of these challenges will be rejected before we even get to the Canvassing Board on December 16th. With that in mind, in the spirit of the Holidays, and to give respect to this process that it deserves, we ask you to join us tomorrow morning in standing down in the game of ballot challenge one upsmanship.”

I’ve posted about this here and here. Everyone who’s paid attention knew that this was a PR game initiated by Franken. The PR game started shifting away from Franken’s campaign when Stearns County Auditor Randy Schreifels felt compelled to issue this press release:

Date: November 24, 2008
Contact: Randy Schreifels, County Auditor-Treasurer, 320-656-3901

U.S. Senate Race Recount Facing More Challenges

The process is slowing down in Stearns County’s hand recount of the U.S. Senate race.

Stearns County election officials are getting many more frivolous challenges, mainly starting with one challenger from the Al Franken campaign. When this happens, the Norm Coleman campaign will counter with another frivolous challenge.

By 10:00 this morning, there have already been seven ballots challenged, where voter intent is very clear. On Friday, there were 15 challenges, and most of them were frivolous as well. Compare that to just 8 challenges the entire first day and only 3 challenges the second day.

This morning, for example, a ballot was challenged because the oval wasn’t completely blackened, although the majority of it was filled in. Another ballot was challenged because there was a mark, or a small line, somewhere else on the ballot, not even near the U.S. Senate race.

Stearns County officials were hoping to wrap up the recount today, but that goal might now be in jeopardy. At the end of the day on Friday, Stearns County had approximately just 16,000 ballots left to recount, out of 79,000 total ballots, and officials were hoping to finish those today. But with the extra challenges, the process could extend into Tuesday.

Legally, Stearns County has until December 5th to complete the recount.

For those who want to watch the recount, but can’t make it into the Administration Center, they can view it live on Stearns County’s website at www.co.stearns.mn.us from 8:00–4:00 each day.

Schreifels justified his ire in an interview with me, saying that Franken’s frivolous challenges were artificially extending the recount, which means that his personnel are allocated to the recount longer than if Team Franken had just played it straight.

Captain Ed posted this about the recount:

The canvassing board will provide the real focus for this recount. We’re fortunate to have four widely-respected jurists on this panel who will not countenance any shenanigans, even with the strongly partisan Mark Ritchie as a statutory member as Secretary of State.

Barring the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that clearly stated election law be ignored, Team Franken must notice that their chances of winning are shrinking daily.

One thing that should be pointed out about this that hasn’t received enough coverage is that Minnesota’s election laws are exceptionally clear and Minnesota’s ballots are the best in the nation. Even the recount procedures are well-designed.

TRANSLATION: The ballots will determine the outcome, not the partisans.

That’s something Team Franken has been trying to change since the outset. Thsu far, they’ve failed miserably in effecting that change.

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This morning, I spoke with the Lady Logician about the recount. LL brought up a great point that’s worth repeating: Scott County’s recount doesn’t start until Dec. 3. According to the Lady Logician, Scott is the reddest county in Minnesota. There’s no doubt but that that’s accurate. This big news. Team Franken is still trailing by 210 votes with 77% of ballots recounted.

What’s worse for Franken is that there’s practically no chance that he’ll gain on Coleman in Scott County because he didn’t get enough votes there. According the Strib, the Coleman campaign has challenged 1,535 ballots, Team Franken has challenged 1,501 ballots. Here’s what they’re reporting:

More than 78 percent of the votes had been recounted as of Monday night, and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s advantage over DFLer Al Franken stood at 210, according to a Star Tribune compilation of results reported to the secretary of state and gathered by the newspaper. Before the recount, Coleman led Franken by 215 votes out of about 2.9 million cast, a margin that has fluctuated over the past week.

After all the hype, after all the apocalyptic predictions by nationally known journalists, Al Franken has gained 5 votes on Sen. Coleman since the hand recount began. Big deal. It’s time that the national media took a deep breath and did their research on what’s happening here before making such apocalyptic predictions.

Having seen the system in action, it’s just very difficult for me to worry about the recount portion of this fight. That doesn’t mean I think that it’s nothing but smooth sailing for Sen. Coleman, though I wish that would be the case. I don’t doubt that Team Franken will do everything possible to steal this election. Nothing in his character suggests anything but that.

Frankly, I don’t see Franken catching Sen. Coleman before this recount ends. The only chances that I see Franken having of being sworn in as senator is if Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats ignoring the results of the initial vote, the machine recount and the manual recount or having a court rule that the rejected absentee ballots must be re-examined.

The Pi-Press agrees with me that time’s running out on team Franken:

As Minnesota’s recount in the U.S. Senate race marches on, campaign operatives have focused on the color of the ballots being counted.

Are the piles of recounted ballots from red counties, where Republican Sen. Norm Colman might be expected to pick up a few stray votes? Or blue counties, where DFL challenger Al Franken might have the advantage?

But Minneapolis, the biggest, bluest pile of all, is turning that logic on its head. With nearly half of its ballots recounted, the city Franken calls home isn’t doing the candidate any favors. And that could be dimming Franken’s hopes of catching Coleman before the state canvassing board meets Dec. 16.

“Things are clearly moving in the wrong direction for Franken,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

With fewer than half of the ballots counted in Minneapolis, Franken has lost 86 votes, while Coleman has lost just 37. In other words, the city could be blunting any recount advantage Franken might have in the rest of the state as the recount rolls toward its Dec. 5 deadline.

Sen. Coleman started Monday with a 180 vote lead. Monday finished with Sen. Coleman leading by 210 votes. If momentum ever existed for Franken, which I don’t think existed, it doesn’t exist anymore. After each precinct recount finishes, the weight must be getting heavier on Team Franken’s mind. They must know that their opportunity is slipping away.

When we look back at this process, we’ll likely realize that Franken tried creating artificial momentum by challenging properly filled out ballots in the hopes of influencing the Canvassing Board and the courts. History will likely say that that attempt failed.

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I just got off the phone with Randy Schreifels, the Stearns County Auditor. Mr. Schreifels had made a statement earlier today outlining the recount process. Mr. Schreifels talked specifically about “a single Franken volunteer” issuing what I believe are multiple frivolous challenges.

Mr. Schreifels gave me the following recount statistics:

8 total challenges were issued Wednesday, followed by only 3 Thursday. A single challenge was issued Friday morning. Friday afternoon, 14 total challenges were issued. This morning, roughly 45 challenges were made.

Mr. Schreifels said that these challenges were raising the possibility of Stearns County not finishing the recount by tonight’s goal. He also noted that the recount was tying up a significant portion of his employees.

UPDATE: Here’s the text of Mr. Schreifels’ statement:

Date: November 24, 2008
Contact: Randy Schreifels, County Auditor-Treasurer, 320-656-3901

U.S. Senate Race Recount Facing More Challenges

The process is slowing down in Stearns County’s hand recount of the U.S. Senate race.

Stearns County election officials are getting many more frivolous challenges, mainly starting with one challenger from the Al Franken campaign. When this happens, the Norm Coleman campaign will counter with another frivolous challenge.

By 10:00 this morning, there have already been seven ballots challenged, where voter intent is very clear. On Friday, there were 15 challenges, and most of them were frivolous as well. Compare that to just 8 challenges the entire first day and only 3 challenges the second day.

This morning, for example, a ballot was challenged because the oval wasn’t completely blackened, although the majority of it was filled in. Another ballot was challenged because there was a mark, or a small line, somewhere else on the ballot, not even near the U.S. Senate race.

Stearns County officials were hoping to wrap up the recount today, but that goal might now be in jeopardy. At the end of the day on Friday, Stearns County had approximately just 16,000 ballots left to recount, out of 79,000 total ballots, and officials were hoping to finish those today. But with the extra challenges, the process could extend into Tuesday.

Legally, Stearns County has until December 5th to complete the recount.

For those who want to watch the recount, but can’t make it into the Administration Center, they can view it live on Stearns County’s website at www.co.stearns.mn.us from 8:00–4:00 each day.

Schreifels clearly states that the instigator was “one challenger from the Al Franken campaign.” You can’t state it much more clearly than that.

I also spoke with another employee in the Auditor’s office. This employee identified the Franken campaign challenger was a woman. The Franken challenger’s name wasn’t revealed.

I strongly urge people to take a little time to watch the recount. Many urban myths have been started during this process. Anybody stating that election officials aren’t total professionals is off base, at least from the reports that I’ve seen and according to my experiences.

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I just returned from the Stearns County clerk’s office. The clerk’s office in just down the hall from where they’re doing the recount. While at the Clerk’s office, I asked if they’d heard if they’d finish the recount today as scheduled. The people there weren’t certain because they were now checking the backs of ballots.

Though the people in the Clerk’s office weren’t certain who was doing this, I’m betting that it’s Franken’s people who were asking for that. I can’t picture Sen. Coleman’s people doing that since they’re ahead. This tactic will certainly slow this process down while having little impact on the outcome.

Since a lawsuit is sure to be filed by the candidate who’s trailing, I decided to check on whether Minnesota Election law speaks to that. Here’s what I found:

209.021 NOTICE OF CONTEST.
Subdivision 1. Manner; time; contents.
Service of a notice of contest must be made in the same manner as the service of summons in civil actions. The notice of contest must specify the grounds on which the contest will be made. The contestant shall serve notice of the contest on the parties enumerated in this section. Notice must be served and filed within five days after the canvass is completed in the case of a primary or special primary or within seven days after the canvass is completed in the case of a special or general election; except that if a contest is based on a deliberate, serious, and material violation of the election laws which was discovered from the statements of receipts and disbursements required to be filed by candidates and committees, the action may be commenced and the notice served and filed within ten days after the filing of the statements in the case of a general or special election or within five days after the filing of the statements in the case of a primary or special primary. If a notice of contest questions only which party received the highest number of votes legally cast at the election, a contestee who loses may serve and file a notice of contest on any other ground during the three days following expiration of the time for appealing the decision on the vote count.
Subd. 2. Notice filed with court. If the contest relates to a nomination or election for statewide office, the contestant shall file the notice of contest with the court administrator of district court in Ramsey county. For contests relating to any other office, the contestant shall file the notice of contest with the court administrator of district court in the county where the contestee resides.
If the contest relates to a constitutional amendment or other question voted on statewide, the contestant shall file the notice of contest with the court administrator of district court in Ramsey county. If the contest relates to any other question, the contestant shall file the notice of contest with the court administrator of district court for the county or any one of the counties where the
question appeared on the ballot.

Ramsey District Court appears to be Ground Zero for statewide election disputes. From there, it would got to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, then to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Minnesota Court of Appeals “provides the citizens of Minnesota with prompt and deliberate review of all final decisions of the trial courts, state agencies and local governments.”

Unless something totally unforeseen happens, this case will be heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The other X factor in all this is the United States Senate. They can vote to seat either of these candidates. I can’t see them exercising their right to seat Franken if he’s trailing. Every Democratic senator that votes to seat Al Franken will be tarred and feathered with this. They’ll be ridiculed, especially after they’ve made an eith year mantra of count every vote.

It’d be politically difficult to justify seating Franken. The outrage over their arrogance would make Democrats toxic during the next election cycle.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Some national media types are trying to make it sound like the Coleman-Franken recount sound like Florida 2000. It’s time to deflate that myth. The minute that public hears that someone has to determine voter intent, they first flash back to Florida’s butterfly ballots, then think of the punch cards ballots.

While it’s natural to do that, that isn’t the case. In Florida 2000, people were debating voter intent based on the chad family (dimpled, pregnant or hanging.) Minnesota’s ballots are extremely straightforward. When determining voter intent, here’s some things to look for:

1) Did the voter fill in the oval?
2) Did the voter put a check mark inside the oval?
3) Did the voter put an X inside the oval?
4) Did the voter underline the candidate’s name?
5) Did the voter circle the candidate’s name?
6) Did the voter fill in more than one oval? If they did, then voter intent can’t be determined.

Minnesota election law stipulates that voter intent can only be determined by what’s marked on the ballot’s face. If people haven’t underlined or circled the candidate’s name, then they have to have either filled in the oval, put a check mark in the oval or put an X inside the oval. Those are extremely objective benchmarks. They aren’t subjective by any stretch of the imagination.

The election officials that I’ve worked with have been courteous and professional. The methods they use are consistent, logical and straightforward. Now that I’ve worked within the system, it’s my opinion that the administrative side is flawless.

I don’t want to paint the picture that everything is proceeding without incident. That isn’t accurate by any stretch of the imagination. From the outset, Franken employed a challenge strategy to make it look like he was gaining votes, thereby momentum. I wrote about that here. I’d bet that the vast majority of the ballots that they’ve challenged will wind up as Coleman votes. It’s still important that people volunteer for Team Coleman. That’s their check against Team Franken’s planned mischief.

It’s my opinion that the recount itself is a smokescreen for the fight. The fight won’t start until this reaches the courts.

Questioning the voter’s intent is aimed more at temporarily subtracting votes from Sen. Coleman’s totals. I’m betting that Team Franken hoped that they’d overtake Sen. Coleman’s totals so they could point to when they actually led. That hasn’t happened thus far. I doubt it ever will.

Each time a precinct’s worth of ballots is finished, the odds increase that Team Franken won’t get the results they want without a court fight.

That’s about the only thing the Coleman-Franken recount has in common with Florida 2000.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative