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Harry Reid will attempt to seat Al Franken as the junior senator from Minnesota. His logic, if it can be called that, is disturbing:

“We’re going to try to seat Al Franken,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Wednesday, a few hours before he posed with Franken for photos just off the Senate floor. “There’s not a question in anyone’s mind, an assertion by anyone, that there’s been any fraud or wrongdoing in this election.”

Sen. Reid is trying to overlook the fact that Sen. Coleman has said that there’s been wrongdoing “in this election.” It’s apparent that Sen. Reid didn’t read King’s post on all the different ‘oddities’ that have occured during the process.

Rest assured of this: If Reid is successful in seating Franken before the election contest is finished, that will fire up the Republican base across the country. That will be the GOP’s rallying cry in 2010. It’s one thing to lose an election. It’s another for the Senate Majority Leader to say that he’ll ignore the will of Minnesota’s voters.

John Cornyn, who’s chairing the NRSC, says not so fast:

After the Reid-Franken meeting, Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said: “With every press conference and photo-op, it becomes more apparent why Harry Reid and Al Franken want to circumvent Minnesota law and avoid a fair and legal review of the ballots – they’re worried about what the outcome might be.

“The fact is that if Al Franken truly believes he won this election, he should respect the laws of his state and allow this legal review to be completed,” Mr. Cornyn said.

I’ve said before that Sen. Coleman faces an uphill fight in this election contest, though I’m certain that, at minimum, Franken’s lead will be narrowed and eliminated at worst. I noted here that the process used to determine which ballots from the infamous “fifth pile” of absentee ballots was flawed because it gave both campaigns veto power over which fifth pile ballots would get counted. That’s contradictory to clearly-written Minnesota election law. Minnesota election law clearly gives that responsibility to local election officials. Here’s the criteria laid out in Minnesota election law for determining whether absentee ballots are accepted or rejected:

The election judges shall mark the return envelope “Accepted” and initial or sign the return envelope below the word “Accepted” if the election judges or a majority of them are satisfied that:
(1) the voter’s name and address on the return envelope are the same as the information provided on the absentee ballot application;
(2) the voter’s signature on the return envelope is the genuine signature of the individual who made the application for ballots and the certificate has been completed as prescribed in the directions for casting an absentee ballot, except that if a person other than the voter applied for the absentee ballot under applicable Minnesota Rules, the signature is not required to match;
(3) the voter is registered and eligible to vote in the precinct or has included a properly completed voter registration application in the return envelope; and
(4) the voter has not already voted at that election, either in person or by absentee ballot.
There is no other reason for rejecting an absentee ballot. In particular, failure to place the envelope within the security envelope before placing it in the outer white envelope is not a reason to reject an absentee ballot.

The law doesn’t provide for partisans to have a veto over which ballots are accepted or rejected. That ruling shouldn’t be allowed to stand because the court, in essence, has written new election law. Writing Minnesota’s election laws is the responsibility of Minnesota’s legislature. PERIOD.

Tom West, the GM/editor of the Morrison County Record, highlights another oddity in the process:

And then there is the infamous Minneapolis Ward 3 Precinct 1, where 133 ballots allegedly turned up missing. The original count is still being used, which increases Franken’s margin of victory by 46 votes. How can a recount include numbers with no paper trail? Most likely, those ballots never existed, but 133 others were double counted.

Here’s the portion of Minnesota’s election law that deals with recounts:

Recounts are typically administrative proceedings with the scope limited to the manual recount of the ballots validly cast for the office or ballot question and the declaration of the results. A recount is performed by a canvassing board or by its staff.

In other words, Minnesota election law limits recounts to the recounting of physical ballots.

The bottom line is simple: Harry Reid and Al Franken don’t know what the outcome of the election challenge will be. That’s why they want him seated ASAP. The last thing they want is for their bloviating to be exposed as utter nonsense.

Recent history indicates that Reid’s predictions aren’t particularly worthwhile. in fact, his predictions have been worthless. (See “The Surge has failed” for proof of that.)

Republicans will stick together on filibustering Reid’s attempt to seat Mr. Franken. That’s why Reid’s attempt should be seen for what it is: a predictable move that isn’t based on the will of Minnesota voters. That’s why his attempt should be scuttled.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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