Minnesota Senate Seat Continues Unfilled
The odds are good that Minnesota will continue to have only one United States Senator for quite some time, Aaron Blake reports for The Hill.
A three-judge panel has the result of the Minnesota Senate race in its hands, at least for the time being. But that doesn’t mean Minnesota will have a senator anytime soon.
Lawyers for Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman delivered their closing arguments in the case Friday, but nobody knows when the judges will issue a ruling, which could come down in multiple parts. From there, further court action could keep the case going for weeks or months.
Franken leads Coleman by 225 votes, and signals indicate Coleman is unlikely to overturn the result in the current court.
His legal team has sought to cast as much doubt as possible over the outcome in recent weeks, saying that a ruling on absentee ballots made by the court has rendered any ensuing counting of the votes incomplete. Coleman’s team, which is currently appealing the results of a recount that gave Franken the lead, has suggested it could appeal the case further, and has the blessing of top Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
One can hardly blame Coleman or the GOP. They honestly believe Coleman won the race and he did in fact have the most votes when the counting was done on election day. The subsequent recount process was messy and frustrating and provided plenty of ammunition which with to question the legitimacy of Franken’s gained votes, some of which seemed to appear out of nowhere.
At the same time, however, Franken was declared the winner by the process in place and it’s virtually inconceivable that Coleman will somehow get the result overturned and either be declared the winner or succeed in getting a new election called. And he’d likely lose said election, anyway, given the fact that the left-of-center vote was split between two candidates the first go-round and that the mere fact of having been declared the winner by the canvassing board has conferred added legitimacy to Franken’s claim of victory.
A revote would be the cleanest solution here but it’s an expensive one and, frankly, one not supported by Minnesota’s election law. What remains, then, is either for Coleman to swallow the bitter pill of conceding a contest he thinks was stolen from him or continuing to deprive his erstwhile constituents of representation. My instinct leans toward the former but I don’t feel all that strongly about it.
Regardless, two things remain clear:
- The election outcome was, for all practical purposes, a tie.
- We need a better system for deciding the outcome of very close elections.