Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Minnesota Recount Not Finished in Litigation Dispute Double Counting

Minnesota: who could disagree?

..."Nobody's vote should be counted twice and every vote that should be counted hopefully will get a chance to be counted in this process. I think all Minnesotans will be served by that. You can't hold office if people think that somebody else's vote was double-counted or your vote wasn't considered," Coleman explained....

..."I just want to make sure no vote is counted twice and I want to make sure every absentee ballot is judged by a similar standard so it's fair. If we get there, then we should have a result we can live with," he said.

Minnesota Recount Duplicates from damaged ballots which had to be hand-copied, the sent through the optical-scan tabulating machines.

Ridiculously, it appears a host of the damaged ballots may actually have been counted by machine initially on election day, then some may have been placed in an envelope without awareness the damaged ballots had indeed been tallied by machine.

Now Franken has added potentially to his recount tally by having the damaged ballots/copies recounted in the recount!


Net the Truth Online

JANUARY 5, 2009, 4:42 A.M. ET Funny Business in Minnesota
In which every dubious ruling seems to help Al Franken. Wall Street Journal

Under Minnesota law, election officials are required to make a duplicate ballot if the original is damaged during Election Night counting. Officials are supposed to mark these as "duplicate" and segregate the original ballots. But it appears some officials may have failed to mark ballots as duplicates, which are now being counted in addition to the originals. This helps explain why more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote. By some estimates this double counting has yielded Mr. Franken an additional 80 to 100 votes.

This disenfranchises Minnesotans whose vote counted only once. And one Canvassing Board member, State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, has acknowledged that "very likely there was a double counting." Yet the board insists that it lacks the authority to question local officials and it is merely adding the inflated numbers to the totals.

In other cases, the board has been flagrantly inconsistent. Last month, Mr. Franken's campaign charged that one Hennepin County (Minneapolis) precinct had "lost" 133 votes, since the hand recount showed fewer ballots than machine votes recorded on Election Night. Though there is no proof to this missing vote charge -- officials may have accidentally run the ballots through the machine twice on Election Night -- the Canvassing Board chose to go with the Election Night total, rather than the actual number of ballots in the recount. That decision gave Mr. Franken a gain of 46 votes.

Meanwhile, a Ramsey County precinct ended up with 177 more ballots than there were recorded votes on Election Night. In that case, the board decided to go with the extra ballots, rather than the Election Night total, even though the county is now showing more ballots than voters in the precinct. This gave Mr. Franken a net gain of 37 votes, which means he's benefited both ways from the board's inconsistency.

And then there are the absentee ballots. The Franken campaign initially howled that some absentee votes had been erroneously rejected by local officials. Counties were supposed to review their absentees and create a list of those they believed were mistakenly rejected. Many Franken-leaning counties did so, submitting 1,350 ballots to include in the results. But many Coleman-leaning counties have yet to complete a re-examination. Despite this lack of uniformity, and though the state Supreme Court has yet to rule on a Coleman request to standardize this absentee review, Mr. Ritchie's office nonetheless plowed through the incomplete pile of 1,350 absentees this weekend, padding Mr. Franken's edge by a further 176 votes.

Minnesota: Ruling in Senate Recount

Published: December 25, 2008
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against Senator Norm Coleman’s effort to keep dozens of possible double votes from Democratic-heavy precincts out of the long-running Senate recount, but left the door open for a lawsuit. Lawyers for Mr. Coleman, a Republican, said the decision virtually guaranteed that the recount would end in litigation, delaying the seating of a Minnesota senator well past when the next Congress convenes. Mr. Coleman trails his Democratic rival, Al Franken, by 47 votes. The issue before the court concerned damaged ballots that could not be fed through optical scanners. Under state law, election judges must copy such ballots, mark the copies as “duplicates” and count them, while keeping the originals in an envelope. Mr. Coleman contends originals and duplicates made it into the recount. His lawyers went to the court when the State Canvassing Board ruled against him on those ballots.

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