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It’s now apparent that Al Franken will pursue an undervote strategy to win the election. Such a strategy should be immediately rejected for several reasons. Amanda Carpenter’s Townhall column exposes that myth:

Al Franken’s campaign has been telling reporters that any vote for Barack Obama should count for a vote for Franken in his now-deadlocked recount with incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman. Franken calls it an “undervote,” meaning if a ballot is checked for Obama, but is “mistakingly” left blank for the Senate race, it should go to him. He may want to abandon this logic. The polling data in the run-up to the election shows otherwise.

His nasty brandy of campaigning against Coleman in state of “Minnesota nice” put him anywhere between 12 and 15 points BEHIND Obama. The Minnesota Star-Tribune (the “Strib” as they call it, rhymes with “Trig”) found only 68% of those who said they would vote for Obama were planning to vote for Franken in a survey conducted October 29-31, days before the election.

I talked with several liberals in Central Minnesota who told me that they couldn’t vote for Franken because he’s such a total jerk. Most of these good liberals said that they’d be casting their votes for Dean Barkley. A small percentage said that they’d be voting for Sen. Coleman even though they didn’t particularly like Sen. Coleman.

Some longtime DFL activists said they wouldn’t vote for anyone because they’d “never vote for a Republican” but they simply couldn’t vote for Al Franken. Most of the people in this group said that they were upset that Franken would refer to Paul Wellstone as his friend, saying that Wellstone was a saint while believing that Franken more closely resembled the guy with a pitchfork and the pointy ears. (No, I’m not referring to Spock.)

Before the election, conservatives joked about Franken’s worst nightmare being yards with an Obama sign and a Barkley or Coleman sign in it. Let’s also not forget that Al Franken had a miserable time in the primary. Most of the time, the endorsed candidate vanquishes the primary challenger with 85-95 percent of the vote. Al Franken won with 65 percent of the vote, with Priscilla Lord-Faris getting just short of 30 percent in the Sept. 9 primary. Al Franken even lost 4 counties. Here’s are some statistics I posted immediately following the primary:

Let’s first look at the race from the perspective from the St. Cloud area. Here’s what the SecState’s website shows for Benton County:

Al Franken got 859 votes, which equates into 55.96% of the vote.
Priscilla Lord-Faris got 551 votes, which equates into 35.9% of the vote.

Here’s the final tally from Stearns County:

Al Franken got 2,148 votes, which equates into 55.43% of the vote.
Priscilla Lord-Faris got 1,553 votes, which equates into 40.08% of the vote.

Here’s the final tally in Sherburne County:

Al Franken got 1,219 votes, which equates into 60.65% of the vote.
Priscilla Lord-Faris got 712 votes, which equates into 35.42% of the vote.

This is proof that lots of DFL activists were disgusted with Mr. Franken. Why else would only 1 person show up for a Franken event in St. Cloud? Everyone remembers that. That story was highlighted on the Drudge page for a couple days. The LA Times wrote an article about it. Now we’re supposed to forget that event and assume that people who would’ve run through walls for Obama and who hated Franken really intended to vote for Franken even though the ballots weren’t marked? I think not.

Yesterday, Mark Ritchie told MSNBC that the Coleman campaign’s “goal was to win at any price”, something that the Coleman campaign immediately rejected. It’s apparent that Mr. Franken’s campaign is willing to do anything to win this election. It’s apparent because they’re attempting to convince election judges that they know the voter’s intent was to vote for Mr. Franken even though the ballots aren’t marked as such.

I just spoke with someone in the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office about the types of ballots available in Minnesota. I did this to verify that the forms weren’t confusing. (I did this as verification, not as an investigation.) The gentleman I spoke with said that they employed two ballot types.

One type of ballot has an oval alongside the candidate’s name. To vote for a candidate on such a ballot, the voter is required to fill in the oval.

The other ballot type is a connect the arrow type. As you can see, this isn’t a confusing system. In fact, it’s one of the most straightforward ballots in the nation.

My point is this: It’s impossible to convince thinking people that a ballot that’s marked for President-Elect Obama but isn’t marked for Al Franken is really a vote for Mr. Franken.

Mr. Franken, it’s time to stop the attempted theft of this election. It’s time that Mr. Franken let the results speak for themselves.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

19 Responses to “Franken’s Undervote Strategy”

  • Bill Bunke says:

    This post quotes Amanda Carpenter:

    “Al Franken’s campaign has been telling reporters that any vote for Barack Obama should count for a vote for Franken “.

    Is this supported by any news story that a reporter has filed and is available for anyone to see? This sounds like an empty comment if there is no true source.

    What is the truth here?

  • Gary Gross says:

    As I pointed out, the ballots are painfully simple to fill out. It isn’t credible to think that any statistically significant number of people screwed up that badly.

    Nonetheless, the ‘voter intent argument’ is irrelevant. Why should people be allowed to divine the voters’ intent on undervotes but overvotes are immediately rejected? Shouldn’t the voter be responsible for filling the ballots out correctly?

  • jason bird says:

    What’s really funny is that Lord Faris with almost 75,000 votes in the primary was never asked by fellow Democrat Franken for help or an endorsement in the general election. Both Coleman and Barkley (Independent candidate) asked for her endorsement.Lord Faris and her staff scripted a very positive ad endorsing Franken but were never asked to help. Her support would have cerainly moved at least a few thousand Democratic votes back into the Franken column and he would have won without even a recount.Same reason he didn’t ask is the reason he’d make an ineffective Senator–he can’t work with anybody who disagrees with him or opposes him.

  • Bill Bunke says:

    Gary,

    Since you brought the subject up, what percent of the approx. 2.9 million ballots cast is needed to show statistical signficance? The current margin of 200 some votes is about .01% of the total.

    As to voter intent, for a manual recount; isn’t the goal to have polling place staff examine the ballot to see if it is clearly marked for one candidate or the other? It may be comforting to assume that every one of nearly 3 million ballots has been cast so a machine can recognize it, but this is unlikely to happen every time.

    However, if the law does not require an exact machine scan, should we ignore a ballot having a check mark, “X”, circled name, or other clear marking for a single candidate?

    How can the law deny a ballot where the voter intent is clear?

  • Gary Gross says:

    isn’t the goal to have polling place staff examine the ballot to see if it is clearly marked for one candidate or the other?

    No it isn’t. The poll worker’s job is to verify that the ballot doesn’t contain overvotes, where the voter votes for more than one candidate in the same race.

    It isn’t the poll worker’s job to make sure that each race is marked off because, according to Minnesota state statute, voters are allowed to not vote for a specific race.

    If a voter wants to vote for every Democrat on the ballot, then it’s that voter’s responsibility to make certain that they’ve voted for every Democrat on the ballot.

    If a voter wants to vote for every Republican on the ballot, then it’s that voter’s responsibility to make certain that they’ve voted for every Republican on the ballot.

    At some point, personal responsibility must be part of the equation. At this point, the Franken campaign is essentially arguing that personal responsibility isn’t part of the electoral equation.

  • Bill Bunke says:

    Gary,

    I can see my mistake; when I referred to a manual recount, I misused “polling place staff”, where I should have referred to the canvassing board. You are correct that a “poll worker” has no role to play regarding ballot examination or voter intent. Sorry about that.

    Oddly enough, I never mentioned that anyone was responsible for enforcing that each office had to have a vote cast for it on every ballot (that is if I understand your comment “make sure that each race is marked off”). I had said that a ballot examination could “see if it is clearly marked for one candidate or the other”. Seeing is not mandating.

    I’m still wondering how you would consider a recount ensures voter intent as specified in 204c.22 (state statutes, i think).

    I’m also waiting for a response on statistical significance.

    Care to reply to these, or would that not be appropriate?

  • Gary Gross says:

    Gary,

    I can see my mistake; when I referred to a manual recount, I misused “polling place staff”, where I should have referred to the canvassing board. You are correct that a “poll worker” has no role to play regarding ballot examination or voter intent. Sorry about that.

    That’s an easy mistake to make. There’s nothing to worry about as far as I’m concerned.

    Intent
    204C.22 DETERMINING VOTER’S INTENT.
    Subdivision 1. Ballot valid if intent determinable. A ballot shall not be rejected for a
    technical error that does not make it impossible to determine the voter’s intent.

    How do you determine intent? I’d think that that’s a high hurdle for several reasons.

    1) Lots of people that voted for President-Elect Obama also voted for Sen. Coleman or Dean Barkley.
    2) Many people that voted for President-Elect Obama didn’t vote for anyone for US Senate candidate.
    1,573,323 people voted for the Obama-Biden ticket while only 1,211,359 voted for Al Franken. Sen. Coleman got 1,211,565 votes while Dean Barkley got 437,389 votes.

    At best, you can attempt to divine the voter’s intent but that’s about it. Frankly, I don’t see the importance of that provision.

  • Bill Bunke says:

    Gary,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    As far as your excerpt from 204c.22, the document as a whole covers up to 6 pages, with sample ballot images. Your excerpt doesn’t do justice to the wide-ranging ciscumstances that can be used to determine if voter intent is or is not present.

    In the end, this will (rightly) be based not on on the set of statistics you offer, but by what the ballot actually shows the voters actions reveal (in all their complexity).

    As far as I know, whether or not any of us can see “the importance of that provision”, it is part of MN election law and should play its intended role in election operations.

    I am getting the feeling you are talking past my comments, as many points I’ve tried to raise have not been responded to.

    The initial post that asked if there was any proof from a reporter which quotes the Franken camp in the manner suggested by Amanda Carpenter. I would submit that voter intent [204c.22] would not allow that to happen [Subd. 14. No votes for certain offices].

    In response to this post, you referred to voters responsibility “for filling the ballots out correctly”. I’m not sure correctly as a term has legal standing; perhaps “in accordance with state law” would be a better fit.

    Unanswered comments also include:

    – exact machine scan not required?
    – deny a ballot w/clear intent?
    – seeing is not mandatory?
    – statistical significance?

    BTW, I now realize you were the author of the blog entry. Too bad the author’s name is not visible (or did I miss that along the way)?

    p.s. Carpenters use of “undervote” is not an accurate definition or reference.

    According to the AP:
    [ballots that showed a presidential vote but no Senate vote are called the “undervote.”]

  • Gary Gross says:

    As far as I know, whether or not any of us can see “the importance of that provision”, it is part of MN election law and should play its intended role in election operations.

    I don’t disagree that that provision “should play its intended role in election operations.” I’m simply wondering how it can be objectively & verifiably applied.

    In response to this post, you referred to voters responsibility “for filling the ballots out correctly”. I’m not sure correctly as a term has legal standing; perhaps “in accordance with state law” would be a better fit.

    Either phrase works for me, though I agree that your phrasing is the better phrasing.

    exact machine scan not required?

    If that’s what the law requires, then that’s the procedure that must be followed. If the law doesn’t require it, then it shouldn’t be followed.

    deny a ballot w/clear intent?

    Clear is a subjective term. If you gave a specific example, I might respond more specifically.

  • Gary asks

    Shouldn’t the voter be responsible for filling the ballots out correctly?

    If a voter circles a candidate’s name that is a valid vote. Any 19th century vote counter would see that as a valid vote. The fact that our 21st century electronic vote counters are too stupid to see this is no excuse excuse to disenfranchise voters.

    And this is why we have recounts. If an election is not close, the small number of people who put circles around the candidates names or place and X or a check by the name or who use their own pen to fill in the oval will not affect the results. But when candidates are separated by a margin of less than 0.01%, such votes can matter and so are counted.

  • Gary Gross says:

    The fact that our 21st century electronic vote counters are too stupid to see this is no excuse excuse to disenfranchise voters.

    Enough with abusing the D-word. Disenfranchisement only happens if the person is denied a ballot entirely. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION.

    What you call disenfranchisement is what most people call human error.

    I could be a bit lenient if the instructions weren’t clear. In Minnesota, they’re exceptionally straightforward. Furthermore, the voter gets these instructions before they’re handed a ballot.

    If people don’t follow the rules, their vote should be rejected.

  • Ralph Kramden says:

    Does Amanda Carpenter have any evidence that “Al Franken’s campaign has been telling reporters that any vote for Barack Obama should count for a vote for Franken”?

    Do you?

    She provides no cite at all as far as I can tell. I think she and you are just making things up.

  • Bill Bunke says:

    Gary,

    Regarding disenfranchise(ment); I’m not sure denial of a ballot is the appropriate way to describe this.

    Research shows this described as “deprive of voting rights”. Although this includes denial of a ballot, at a more detailed level, a right to vote would include counting the voters intent (204c.22) in any race on the ballot.

    This also would apply to the “deny a ballot w/clear intent” we were discussing.

  • Ralph Kramden says:

    Gary says: “I could be a bit lenient if the instructions weren’t clear. In Minnesota, they’re exceptionally straightforward. Furthermore, the voter gets these instructions before they’re handed a ballot.

    If people don’t follow the rules, their vote should be rejected.”

    Gary, Minnesota state law concerning voter intent is also very clear. On what basis do you suggest the law be ignored?

    “Minnesota law requires that every effort be made to accurately count all votes on a ballot. This means that a ballot or vote must not be rejected for a technicality if it is possible to decide what the voter intended, even though the voter may have made a mistake or the ballot is damaged.”

    (Ref: http://www.sos.state.mn.us/docs/recount_guide_2008.pdf?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUs section 13.0)

  • Gary Gross says:

    “Minnesota law requires that every effort be made to accurately count all votes on a ballot. This means that a ballot or vote must not be rejected for a technicality if it is possible to decide what the voter intended, even though the voter may have made a mistake or the ballot is damaged.”

    If that’s what the law says, then I’m perefectly willing to abide by that law.

  • Matthew Avitabile says:

    Um… stealing the election? It’s politics, remember?
    http://jumpinginpools.blogspot.com/2008/11/franken-stealing-election-in-minnesota.html

  • Bill Bunke says:

    Matthew,

    After following the link(s) you provide, I’m disappointed. These are a mixture of opinion (WSJ), debunked “stories” (32 votes in car), and other unsubstantiated stuff that really don’t help understand the situation.

    The implications and assumptions made based on vote audits and the aggregate affect on vote totals is not an accurate portrayal of the statistical nature of this. Anecdotal evidence does not have to follow the law of averages when small quantities are involved.

    The oft quoted “100 votes for Franken” has been clearly debunked; a person wrote down 24 instead of 124 for Franken. The total votes for the race had the 100 votes there, they just were not shown for Franken.

    Passing off opinion as fact diminshes the value of a post.

  • Bill Bunke says:

    Sam,Sam,Sam,

    Other than the word Franken in your post, there is no connection to him be found in the video clip. If you’ve got something to say, do so with relevant facts.

    Otherwise your voice is irrelevant.

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