Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sample Everything Wrong Minnesota Senatorial Election

Fighting Frankenstein
By Matthew Vadum on 4.14.09 @ 6:08AM

...As Johnson shares his otherwise cogent analysis and rattles off a litany of Coleman's missed opportunities, his reasoning seems to suffer from a kind of lawyerly tunnel-vision. There is an undue focus on the niceties of legal process and not enough said about the appalling irregularities that characterized both the initial and subsequent vote-counting in the allegedly clean-elections state.

To list every single known irregularity might require a book at this point, but suffice it to say, there were plenty of them. To provide an overview, let's recount what went on early in the counting process, while a national audience was still paying somewhat close attention to the election. Ballots were discovered in an election judge's car and other votes appeared as if by magic across the state. One county discovered 100 new votes for Franken and blamed a clerical error. Another had vote tallies 177 higher than the total recorded on Election Day. Another county reported 133 fewer votes than its voting machines recorded. Almost every time new ballots materialized, or tallies were updated or corrected, Franken benefited.

The excellent research performed by John Lott, senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, who exhaustively documented the countless logic-defying decisions used by officials during the original count and the recount process, threw light on many of the irregularities.

As Lott wrote, the morning after the election, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes. As ACORN-aligned Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a former community organizer, presided over the process, over the next five days, Coleman's lead had dwindled to just 221. Election officials claimed they had to correct typos on vote tally sheets and that these corrections gave Franken 435 votes and took 69 away from Coleman.


As Lott noted at the time, this massive vote-switch was if not statistically impossible, highly improbable. He wrote that in Minnesota, "corrections were posted in other races, but they were only a fraction of those for the Senate." Franken's Senate vote gains were "2.5 times the gain for Obama in the presidential race count, 2.9 times the total gain that Democrats got across all Minnesota congressional races, and 5 times the net loss that Democrats suffered for all state House races."

As Lott noted Nov. 10, almost all of Franken's new votes came from three out of the state's 4,130 precincts, and nearly half the new 246 Franken votes came from one heavily Democratic precinct in Two Harbors. Barack Obama won the precinct with 64% of the vote but "[n]one of the other races had any changes in their vote totals in that precinct."

None of this has ever been adequately explained. It probably never will be, but it's just a small sample of everything that went wrong in this closely contested Senate battle....

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