Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Coleman-Franken campaign continues on with challenged ballots and rejected absentee ballots at issue.

The campaign between Norm Coleman and Al Franken didn't end on Election Day. In fact, they've spent upwards of $4 million since then seeking to insure their interests aren't ignored in the recount process.

The major media groups say Coleman has a 192 vote lead while Franken camp claims he holds a 4 vote lead if all the election judge decisions on challenged ballots are upheld.

Remaining issues evolve around what to do with the 133 supposedly missing ballots in Minneapolis, how to handle challenges and what to do about improperly rejected absentee ballots.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie went out of his way to be involved in the missing ballots issue. He dispatched one of his assistants to help look for the ballots. Ritchie then said if they weren't found they would likely go with the count on Election Day, which begs the question, why count them if the reason for the recount is to insure that votes were properly counted. Initially, Minneapolis' campaign official, who is a democrat, thought the number discrepancy was due to absentee ballots improperly run through the voting machines. Franken campaign objected and then they changed their tune.

Regarding the handling of challenges, it's up in the air whether a majority of the canvassing board will rule on rejected ballots by majority or unanimous votes.

And finally, there's the question of improperly rejected absentee ballots. There are four criteria in state law for which absentee ballots can be rejected. Apparently, there were a number of absentee ballots rejected for some other reason. The Canvassing Board initially ruled it didn't have the authority to include them in the recount, but will revisit the issue this Friday.

The Franken campaign has been most concerned about the absentee ballots being rejected improperly. It will be interesting to hear their position if they are ahead by a few votes after all the challenged ballots are considered. Will they still demand that they be included? I would doubt it.

It seems to me that improperly rejected absentee ballots should be reconsidered. Or if they weren't properly rejected why wouldn't they be included? That seems to clearly be a case of disenfranchisement. (Some argue that Franken would benefit by more absentees being considered while others say it would benefit Coleman more because historically Republicans are more likely to vote by absentee ballot than Democrats.)

Hopefully, this will all end sooner rather than later and the final result will not be in doubt.

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