Time for Coleman to Concede Election
Yesterday’s ruling by a three-judge panel that “The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the Nov. 4, 2008, election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately” and that Al Franken “received the highest number of votes legally cast” and “is therefore entitled to receive the certificate of election” should, but likely won’t, put an end to the nightmare that was Minnesota’s Senate contest. Rick Hasen judges the ruling to be “reasonable and conservative” and “the kind of opinion that is unlikely to be disturbed on appeal by either the Minnesota Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court.”
Coleman has said he’ll appeal yesterday’s ruling, which is what one would expect him to say. But the fact of the matter is that, he would simply be delaying the inevitable by continuing to challenge. This would serve to deny the Democrats an additional vote in the Senate, an understandable political goal for an embittered candidate, but one that comes at the steep price of denying Minnesotans half the representation to which the Constitution entitles them. As such, it’s time for Coleman to throw in the towel and let Senator Franken go to work.
The process has been a frustrating one and supporters of Coleman, myself included, have reason to be unhappy with how we got here. The fact that Coleman had a 600-vote lead when the counting was done, had a 192 vote margin after the recount a month later, and the appearance of numerous “found” Franken ballots (in fairness, he “lost” some, too) and the dubiousness of the hand recount process makes it especially hard to give up the fight.
Still, there’s no evidence that Franken or his people have done anything fraudulent. The ebbs and flow in the vote count we’ve seen are the inevitable result of applying minute-by-minute scrutiny to an imperfect process run by human beings in a race that was, for all intents and purposes, a tie. And, for demographic reasons, Democrats tend to fare better than Republicans in recounts.
We’ll never know whether Coleman or Franken actually got more votes. Given the closeness of the race, a coin flip would have provided an equally satisfying and systematically valid measure. But we have the process we have and Franken emerged the narrow winner.
It’s time for Coleman to end this. And perhaps, in addition to finding employment that pays multiple times what United States Senators earn, he’ll lead an effort to reform Minnesota’s election system to avoid this kind of nightmare in the future.