Minnesota Recount Keeps Going…and Going…

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Minnesota, Senate

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The recount in the Minnesota U.S. Senate election is almost over. But the legal challenges mean there will be no official winner for awhile longer. Right now, incumbent Republican Norm Coleman leads Democratic challenger Al Franken by 251 votes with several thousand contested ballots awaiting review.

The state canvassing board will convene on December 16th to begin sorting through the challenged ballots. After that, there is still the possibility of a court case. I’m sure the people of Minnesota are thrilled.

While 251 votes is a tiny margin when you consider 2.4 million voters cast ballots, it’s still hard to envision Franken winning enough challenges to take the lead. Hopefully, once the canvassing board finishes their work, Franken will concede. Then again, he is, by all accounts, a rather obstinate fellow. He may choose to drag this thing out well into next year.

But I think Franken needs to be careful about perception. He performed well enough to make himself a viable candidate in future elections. He hardly wants to leave the impression that he’s a sore loser or more concerned with personal power than he is with democracy. My bet is he fights as hard as he can through the ballot challenges and then gives one of those concession speeches that everyone will praise as being “statesmanlike.”

We’ll see.


This entry was posted on Friday, December 5th, 2008 and is filed under Minnesota, Senate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Minnesota Recount Keeps Going…and Going…”

  1. Jon Says:

    I can’t see Franken conceding until the question of whether all the rejected absentee ballots were properly rejected is settled, presumably in court. Nor do I expect Coleman to concede without litigating that question should the result of the recount once the challenged ballots have been considered favour Franken. Nor do I think either one of them ought to concede before they have exhausted their legal options, short of asking the Senate to overturn the result arrived at under Minnesota law. There would have to be a glaringly obvious miscarriage of justice for either campaign even to consider that and I doubt if the Senate would look with favor on such a request from either side.

  2. mw Says:

    As much as I would like to see Coleman keep his seat in order to pretend that there will be some credible opposition in Congress, the simple reality is that this is a statistical tie. This is no longer about who got the most votes, because at this point it is literally impossible to determine who got more votes in any absolute sense. We want to pretend that there is some determinable final truth that can be ascertained, but the reality is that the way we count votes it cannot be determined at this level of granularity. A few dozen votes difference with 6,000+ disputed and some hundreds missing in the recount? No one knows and no one can ever know who got the most votes. It is a figurative coin flip.

    So how does it get resolved? Interestingly, it might be a literal coin flip. Apparently the Minnesota election rules provide for “drawing lots” in the event of a statistical tie.

    If that is not satisfactory to Minnesota voters, then as Chris Cillizza speculates, we are likely heading for litigation, a senate adjudication, and a revote.

    But at this point, the November 4 vote has been counted and recounted and there is no winner. Nor will there be from that vote. You just can’t get there from here.

  3. Nicole Says:

    I don’t understand why contesting rejected ballots makes someone a sore loser. If anything, those who would reject votes are disenfranchising voters. At least the courts will look at all the ballots. If all the ballots had been counted in 2000, we would not have had to endure 8 years of Bush and Co.

  4. Mike B. Says:

    It’s “hard to envision” that thousands of challenged ballots will, when reviewed, reveal a couple hundred more legitimate votes for Franken than for Coleman?

    And the prospect of taking office under suspicion would be so damaging to his political career as to make it preferable for Franken to concede a six-year term outright?

    Dude, seriously. It’s not a prerequisite of conservatism to be able to say dumb things with a straight face.

  5. Greg Says:

    Two points where others might disagree:

    1 .Franken’s camp is saying he’s actually probably pulled ahead. Margins differ depending on what’s being counted and what’s expected to be counted. But it seems that to be fair, any conclusion that Coleman has a lock on this (or even on this stage of the recount) should be said to be indeterminate.

    2. I’d be suspicious of any “Oh, Al, don’t be a sore loser!” messages. That’s so pre-stolen 2000 election. Any Democrat who doesn’t bring gun to a knife fight where recounts are concerned is going to lose a lot of credibility, and that “play nice” message is a chump message when you’re opposing a party and a candidate who have never, ever, even once played nice in their lives.

  6. Justin Gardner Says:

    Agreed with mw. This has come down to who has the best lawyers.

    And I still haven’t given away that gift certificate to the person who got closest to guessing the outcome of the election! Damn you Franken!!! :-)

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