Powerline Perspective On MN-Sen: Franken Won

I have had many a nasty thing or two to say about Powerline in my blogging life, but credit where due to Scott Johnson for a pretty fair appraisal of the Minnesota Senate recount. In an election this close, it really is basically a tie. But you count the votes as best you can. The Franken team was simply better. Johnson writes:

Those who postulate Democratic shenanigans as the cause of Colemanís difficulties fail to reckon with the December 18 decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court on the inclusion of previously rejected absentee ballots in the recount. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that absentee ballots identified by local officials during the recount as wrongly rejected should be included in the recount subject to agreement of the parties (and also subject to the possibility of sanctions on the partiesí lawyers for withholding agreement in bad faith).

. . . In its December 18 decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court handed Coleman the key to the election. He promptly threw it away. When the absentee ballots were opened and counted at the conclusion of the recount, Frankenís margin climbed from 49 to 225, where it ended. Yesterday, Frankenís margin was amplified by 87 votes deriving from 351 absentee ballots opened in the election-contest proceedings.

I want to stop here for a second because in fact Coleman never had a "key to the election." By Johnson's own account, when the Minnesota Supreme court handed down its December 18 decision, Franken already had a 49 vote lead. What could Johnson be thinking there? Frankly, I think Johnson is arguing that Coleman could have credibly argued for a do over election. I think that was not possible, but he is from Minnesota not I. In any event, Johnson defends the Franken victory and the Minnesota system thusly:

The election-contest court has simply followed Minnesotaís absentee-ballot statute. Arguing, as Coleman has, that a panel of judges should disregard the Minnesota absentee-ballot statute seems like a losing proposition, at least to me. . . . I admire Colemanís public service and believe he has been an outstanding senator. But since the election, the Coleman campaign has put on a performance that conveys a strong impression of complacency and ineptitude; the Franken campaign outhustled and outsmarted it.

Al Franken is a man with political views as ugly as his jokes are unfunny. . . . I canít find a single good thing to say about him except that he didnít steal the election.

Good for Johnson.

Speaking for me only

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    To my mind... (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 08:26:56 AM EST
    ...all Coleman has done is spend a ton of GOP cash to increase Franken's vote total and made a equine's hindquarters out of himself to the good people of Minnesota.  

    That GOP cash is money that can't be spent elsewhere, like on competative races.  

    Oh please (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Steve M on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 08:44:13 AM EST
    The evidence submitted by Coleman during the seven-week election-contest trial suggests that Minnesota's absentee-ballot system is a Democratic Trojan horse. According to the Coleman campaign, the counties that are careful about applying the requirements of Minnesota's absentee-ballot statute are Republican-leaning counties, while the lax ones are heavily Democratic.

    Yes, I'm sure that's the case.  Officials in the Republican counties are diligent and law-abiding, officials in the Democratic counties are lazy and shiftless.  What a wonderful day it will be when we no longer have to listen to the latest whine from the Coleman campaign.

    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 08:55:55 AM EST
    Well, I stick to the parts that say Franken won fair and square even though Johnson says he does not say it, he basically does.

    Ergo, the purple counties (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Cream City on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 08:59:13 AM EST
    that essentially split 50-50 must be diligent and law-abiding on, say, Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays but lazy and shiftless on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays.  Or something.  Yah, youbetcha.

    That said, Coleman's team seems (none / 0) (#5)
    by Cream City on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 09:16:37 AM EST
    really slow off the mark, again and again, and the blogger shows that well.  Coleman's team has raised some (note, some) useful concerns about counting processes and other matters -- but it seems to do so (from my fairly regular but by no means daily reading of Minnesota media) after the decisions are done and gone, beating dead horses.

    Yup. (none / 0) (#6)
    by Fabian on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 09:29:14 AM EST
    Although I think the whole thing was mostly an exercise in futility, the process was educational and should be studied by the other states.

    Call me slow, but when this whole (none / 0) (#8)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 09:47:13 AM EST
    thing started and people were saying that the Franken campaign was confident about expanding their lead in a recount, I didn't understand why or how they could know that.  Somewhere in my reading I came across a description of how a particular ballot was thrown out and then came back in - and realized that Coleman's campaign had really agressive folks challenging ballots and voters on the day - which I finally understood probably meant that the Franken team were confident that team Coleman had overreached - while the Franken camp might have stuck closer to the rules.  So it seems like the Minnesota system sort of worked well if the recount rectified that kind of behavior.  And it may mean that at least in Minnesota if you send poll watchers out and they are really aggressive and you still lose, the recount may not bring you much relief.

    Additionally (none / 0) (#12)
    by eric on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 11:13:41 AM EST
    the statistics show that recounts favor Democrats because Democratic voters are more likely to screw up a ballot such that the scanner can't read it.  If a person looks at it, then it becomes readable.  Why, I don't know.

    I don't really think that poll watchers had a role in this.  The aggressive challenging by Coleman did happen, but it was during the recount, where his people were making challenges to ballots that really were pretty obviously Franken votes.  That is how Franken knew his numbers would go up - when the canvassing board looked at the ballots, they would be counted.


    I got the impression that the GOP (none / 0) (#13)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 12:34:28 PM EST
    machine was out in full force on election day.

    Of course, all of that reading was done months ago now so I don't think I could piece together where the link would be to the information that gave me this impression.


    Remember that the Repug game plan (none / 0) (#14)
    by MyLeftMind on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:15:53 PM EST
    now is to encourage their base to despise us more than ever.  If the can't win, they can at least try to make ignorant people mad at our side by implying that we cheated.  I'm sure they have no interest in actually fixing the counting processes because they may want to game the system in their favor in the future.

    You do know that the Democratic counties (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by andgarden on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 09:51:43 AM EST
    let those people vote, right?

    re Rep and Dem counties, don't forget that (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by DFLer on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 03:30:10 PM EST
    election officials have to be split evenly between parties, regardless of the lean of the county...so...how does THAT figure into this "analysis"?

    Losing Powerline (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by eric on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 11:07:11 AM EST
    is huge.  Up until now, there has been very little pressure on Coleman to just give up.  And perhaps rightly so - he is entitled to his election challenge.  However, now that we learn that for all the time and effort, he has only dug his hole deeper, people are beginning to jump ship.  I think there will be increasing calls for Coleman to forego any further litigation.  An editorial in an outstate newspaper called for Coleman to concede, even before these additional ballots were added.

    Clearly, this is looking futile for Coleman, and there may be additional calls for him to let it go.  However, to the extent that he is taking orders from the national Republican party, winning isn't the goal, the goal is delay.

    If Coleman Tries to Throw (none / 0) (#7)
    by bob h on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 09:34:25 AM EST
    a Hail Mary pass to Thomas-Scalia, he is just going to reopen the wounds of Bush v. Gore and remind people of the corruption of that decision. My guess is that the Court will not touch it.

    I can't see the grounds (none / 0) (#10)
    by Cream City on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 10:03:51 AM EST
    for the Supreme Court to do so, although I'm no lawyer -- but as I understand it, the grounds would have to be violating of the state process?  There can be debate about this interpretation or that interpretation of the process, but it seems to have been followed well, as the blogger linked here says.  And he clearly is pro-Coleman, so if that's what Coleman's friends think, he would have to find friends outside his state.  And that would be political death, as has been noted here.

    So his reasons for doing so would seem to rely on some sort of reward from the national GOP -- which may not be best for the country, come to think of it: inflicting him on other elsewhere.:-)


    How Would a Move to Federal Court Work? (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jackstraw on Wed Apr 08, 2009 at 01:35:52 PM EST
    Moved forward from an older thread...

    As a practical matter, how does the case move to Federal Court after the Minnesota SC affirms lower court decisions that Coleman doesn't like?

    Does it go to a Federal trials (?) court, then a Federal Appeals court, and then finally the USSC?