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MN-Sen: Is Coleman Asking For A Full Recount In His Contest Petition?

When I contemplated Norm Coleman's contest of the Minnesota Senate result, I assumed he would make discrete specific challenges (i.e. - specific rulings on objections to the determination of election judges, the exclusion of certain rejected absentee ballots, the inclusion of certain duplicate ballots, etc.) to the result certified by the Minnesota Canvassing Board. But reviewing Coleman's motion for contest and Notice of Contest (PDFs), it appears Coleman is asking for a new full recount, to be performed by 3 designated inspection officials (one Coleman inspector, one Franken inspector and one neutral inspector). Then all disputes will be submitted to the Inspection Panel.

It looks as if Coleman wants to drag this out as long as possible. The disputes are already known. It is the disputes that should be the subject of the contest. Instead Coleman is requesting a complete recount do-over. I assume the Election Panel can reject this request and proceed immediately to the disputes. I certainly hope they do.

Speaking for me only

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    Republicans are not bound (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by ricosuave on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:23:11 AM EST
    by any previous statements, decisions, actions, or beliefs.  They can ignore everything they said in 2000 about recounts, everything that Norm Coleman said at the start of this recount, and every fact uncovered during the first recount.

    You have to stop looking at Republicans as if they are lawyers making a case on behalf of a client's interests (at least in politics...I am sure that the republican lawyers in a courtroom are actually lawyers making a case).  They are high school debaters.  They have the resolution they have been assigned to oppose or defend, and they will throw out whatever arguments they can on their side no matter how outlandish or unsupported.

    Norm will keep this up until the clock runs out, or until he embarasses some higher-level Republican official who then tells him to stop.

    Coleman is Jewish. . . (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:25:51 AM EST
    and I believe that that fact should, ipso facto, disqualify him from throwing this Hail Mary pass.

    (To put it in terms familiar to BTD :-)

    That was a drink-spitter (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:28:40 AM EST
    I'll absolve you of the debt of owing me a new keyboard just because you made my morning a whole lot better.

    Parent
    Mary was Jewish, too (none / 0) (#11)
    by ricosuave on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:59:34 AM EST
    Heh (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:06:36 AM EST
    "Jesus was a Jew, yes, but only on his mother's side." --Archie Bunker

    Parent
    I'm astounded (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Lil on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:39:07 AM EST
    at the level of non-embarrasment some politicians feel. I would have thought that Coleman would let this go, so as not to embarrass himself further when he eventually loses...again. The willingness to fight an unwinnable, eternal battle over what is best for the country is just astounding to me. I feel this way about Blago, Palin, Jefferson (not the President), Cheney, just to name a few. I must be an idiot to think people would just do the right thing. What a waste of time and money to drag this out. Unless he really knows something everybody else doesn't, there is no way to win at this point.

    Delaying, distracting Senate Dems (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:21:12 AM EST
    serves a purpose of its own in politics, especially in the early weeks of the new Congress and new administration with their long agenda.  

    I would bet that Coleman is getting funding for this battle from national GOP.

    Then again, I'm trying to recall -- isn't this statewide recount exactly what we wish Gore had done, rather than reduce it to a few counties?  If Dems didn't learn from that, maybe the GOP did?

    Parent

    Didn't they do a statewide recount in MN.? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Lil on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:30:11 AM EST
    I am astounded (none / 0) (#12)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:00:20 AM EST
    you don't feel the same way about C. Kennedy.

    Parent
    So much for the Senate seating Franken (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by magster on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:32:44 AM EST
    Durbin and Reid are saying on Burris that no Senator will ever be seated without a valid certificate signed by a governor and SOS.

    Seems that way to me (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dalton Hoffine on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:21:33 AM EST
    I think perhaps he's trying to make an Equal Protection Argument about the first recount by saying that even though a set of procedures was agreed on for ballot challenges by all counties, it never manifested in that way? Sec. 2 under Motion makes me think that's what he's going for, at least. He seems to be trying to draw up new and arbitrary rules for a recount procedure, which, I don't think he has the legal jurisdiction to do, does he?

    The issue of the duplicate ballots is well-represented, but you're right, this is a bit more far-reaching than I expected. I suppose that's necessary if he's going to make up 230 votes as opposed to less than 130 or so. Bigger risk to him of being rejected, but I suppose without the risk, there's no reward.

    What is Coleman's burden (none / 0) (#5)
    by magster on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:29:41 AM EST
    Does Coleman have to show abuse of discretion or is he entitled to a de novo review right out of the gate?

    Also, what are Franken's options? Can he seek an injunction compelling a certificate? Can he counterclaim to count the other 400 wrongly rejected ballots? Can he get dismissed all the claims for lack of proof for lack of proof on all of Coleman's "upon information and belief" claims? Should he ask the court to open these ballots and the 645 Coleman marked in camera to see if it would make any difference in the tally?

    Should the Dems force the seating of Obama now?

    And O/T: MSNBC says Dems will seat Burris.

    See Steve M's diary (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:30:37 AM EST
    He answers all these questions.

    Parent
    Great diary (none / 0) (#8)
    by magster on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:44:40 AM EST
    Franken should have Reid declare that any contest needs to be brought through the Senate itself, and then file a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

    I wonder if today's change of heart on Burris is so that the absence of a valid certificate is not used as a precedent in the Senate against Franken.

    Parent

    Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:47:51 AM EST
    I wonder if today's change of heart on Burris is so that the absence of a valid certificate is not used as a precedent in the Senate against Franken.

    Except that's never been the rule.  It was an excuse by Reid et al not to originally accept Burris.  But the R's could have made a case in the press.

    Parent

    The contest is valid (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:59:19 AM EST
    even if Franken gets his certificate, the Minnesota court has the power to carry out the contest process.  They can even revoke the certificate under State law, although it's completely up to the Senate whether to assign any legal meaning to that.

    As I discuss towards the end of my diary, the reason it's ok for the courts to hear the contest even though the Senate is the body with jurisdiction is that, under the Minnesota statute, the court is expressly not deciding "who won the election" or "who should get the seat."  Instead, they are merely determining the FACTUAL issue of which candidate received the most lawfully cast votes.  As long as it's clear that the Senate is the ultimate judge of what gets done with those findings of fact, I don't think anyone can dispute the court's power to review the evidence and determine the facts.

    Parent

    If contest cannot be used as a means to an end (none / 0) (#14)
    by magster on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:17:57 AM EST
    then will a court keep the contest alive?  The certificate has no value if the Senate exerts jurisdiction and its authority to make the same factual determinations that the MN court can make.

    Parent
    I expect (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:37:48 AM EST
    that a court would consider itself duty-bound to follow Minnesota law and make the required determinations.  Just because your findings are subject to de novo review doesn't mean you won't do your best to review all the evidence and make the right decision.

    Parent
    Franken should not ask Reid for a thing (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:05:04 AM EST
    Let it go through the courts, even if it takes 6 months. Reid is the one with the taint now.

    Parent
    If they promise to bring in (none / 0) (#15)
    by TimNCGuy on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:20:03 AM EST
    that "bug-eyed" guy from the FL recount to be the independant inspector, I'm all for it.  Would love nothing better than to watch that guy review each of the paper ballots up close hour after hour on cable tee-vee.

    I wish we had ballots (none / 0) (#17)
    by ricosuave on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:26:51 AM EST
    Texas has electronic voting machines.  No ballots to review.  Nothing a human can look at and judge.

    Parent
    since there's already (none / 0) (#21)
    by cpinva on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:38:06 AM EST
    been one taxpayer paid for recount, does the party demanding a second one have to pay for it?

    In fact (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:43:53 AM EST
    I haven't specifically researched this, but I do believe the party filing the contest has to post a substantial bond in order to cover the costs.  Maybe the money will come from the same fine folks who supported the Scooter Libby Defense Fund.

    Parent
    Probably diminish contributions (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:35:16 PM EST
    to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

    Parent
    I think it's too close to call (none / 0) (#23)
    by nellre on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:48:39 AM EST
    If after one recount there are still only a few hundred votes difference between them, I say they hold a re-vote, not a recount.
    Errors occur in recounts as well as the original count. This difference must surely be within the margin of error (?).

    Minn. SOS refers to 12,000 votes (none / 0) (#24)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:59:48 AM EST
    in question and calls them "wrongly rejected," several times in his comments I've seen on this.  So the number of ballots disputed is all over the map.

    Parent
    He refers to 400 votes wrongly rejected (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:40:49 AM EST
    there were a total of 12,00 absentee ballots rejected.

    After review, the MN election officials identified 1300 or so wrongly rejected. Of those 952 were accepted by both candidates. 934 of those produced a vote for Senator.

    Parent

    Yes, that's the canvassing board (none / 0) (#28)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:04:09 PM EST
    which, like the SOS, is out of this now.  As I understand it, the court can start over -- and actually said so in its initial ruling that it said that Coleman could contest, as he is doing here.

    But I would bet that the court is looking for a way to not get into it at all, a technicality to toss the suit or something.  Coleman's lawyers did not do a crack job on meeting earlier deadlines, so they may have messed up something more in the suit.

    Parent

    Thank you (none / 0) (#32)
    by WS on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 06:17:16 PM EST
    for setting the record straight BTD.  

    Had all 1300 wrongly rejected ballots been counted, Franken's lead would be even greater.  

    Parent

    Maybe they should (none / 0) (#25)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:04:45 AM EST
    but you have to follow the procedures provided in State law, you can't just make it up as you go along.  There's no provision for a re-vote and it would, of course, be tremendously expensive for the taxpayers.

    Parent
    Late response (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by nellre on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:07:37 PM EST
    After the 2000 presidential election I conclude that the existing procedures fail to address elections this close.
    It needs fixing.


    Parent
    why is Norm Coleman claiming to be a Senator? (none / 0) (#30)
    by abriancon on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:53:00 PM EST
    last time i checked he was a private citizen. Isn't a misrepresentation to the court?

    Aha. His lawyers have been sloppy (none / 0) (#33)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 07:48:08 PM EST
    in missing deadlines already, which hurt him.  More simple things like this suggest the technicality may be there that the court needs to toss it out.

    Parent
    We heard this before (none / 0) (#31)
    by Lora on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 06:15:32 PM EST
    It looks as if Coleman wants to drag this out as long as possible.

    TPM's Erik Kleefeld said this last week:

    The bottom line here is that even if Coleman ultimately loses the recount plus the formal court contest, he could be able to drag out the seating of Franken for quite some time, well beyond next week's swearing of the 111th Congress.

    This was hypocritical--how?

    BTD 0-1 (none / 0) (#34)
    by pluege on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:13:23 PM EST
    most unusual.

    Coleman should give up. (none / 0) (#36)
    by elrapido on Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 12:46:18 PM EST
    His seat has already been stolen and there's not a thing that he can do about it now.