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

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