Al Franken Needs Help
Unless something drastic happens, Al Franken will lose his bid to overtake Norm Coleman’s narrow first-count win of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate election through the recount. He’s considering other options, including asking the Democratically-dominated Senate to step in.
The math’s not in his favor:
To win his case before the state Canvassing Board, Franken must prevail on more than 6 percent of his challenges of Coleman votes even if Coleman fails to succeed on any of his challenges, a Star Tribune analysis shows.
If the outcome of past election disputes provides a clue, Franken will have a hard time reversing enough votes to win, said one veteran elections official who has been involved in the Senate recount. “Based upon the kinds of challenges I’ve been looking at in the last two weeks, I think that’s just not going to happen,” said Joe Mansky, Ramsey County elections manager.
But there are apparently other options.
Democrat Al Franken’s campaign said Monday that as many as 1,000 absentee ballots were improperly disqualified in Minnesota’s Senate race, and that it may appeal to courts or the U.S. Senate to order that those ballots be counted. “Wherever the numbers stand today…that number simply cannot be relevant if it does not include all the votes that were legally cast,” said Franken attorney Marc Elias. “No recount can be considered accurate or complete until all the ballots cast by lawful voters are counted.”
Minnesota’s Board of Canvassers ruled last Wednesday that it would not revisit the improperly disqualified ballots.
Elias said that of the 12,000 disqualified absentee ballots in the race, “as many as 1,000— ballots were improperly excluded, and should be counted. Elias said it would appeal to the Board of Canvassers, courts, or even the U.S. Senate to ensure those ballots be counted.
The U.S. Constitution allows each congressional chamber to be the “Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the Board of Canvassers’ decision to not count the absentee ballots “a cause for great concern,” fueling speculation that the Senate would explore the legality of the Minnesota recount’s results.
With the slim possibility of a “filibuster-proof” 60 Democratic Senators hanging in the balance (Franken would need to win and Saxby Chambliss would have to lose his runoff) Reid and his cohorts have a lot of motivation to see it Franken’s way. Coleman’s team is not pleased:
“The Franken campaign has made it clear that the recounted votes and will of Minnesotans matter little to them, and that they intend to take their campaign to change the outcome of this election on to the United States Senate,” said Coleman campaign spokesman Mark Drake. “Al Franken should personally reject this strategy outright, and honor the right of Minnesotans to choose who their senator should be — and not allow lawsuits and the strong-arm tactics of the majority leader of the United States Senate to intervene in this process.”
We desperately need to clean up our electoral system to end this sort of nonsense. Voting rules and procedures need to be streamlined and idiot-proofed, removing the need for post-balloting interpretation by interested parties. I have no opinion whatever on the merit of Franken’s claim on the absentee ballots. I’m quite sure, though, that if he wins based on the intervention of partisan officials, it’ll be widely viewed as illegitimate.