Minnesota Senate Race Could Be Decided By Court?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Law, Minnesota, Senate

I think they should just have another revote, but I’ve heard that’s a tough nut to crack because of costs and legal issues. So I understand why some want to lean on the courts.

From Minnesota Independent:

“The most obvious, clean resolution is resolution by the [current] three-judge court, with no appeal,” says [Guy] Charles, a University of Minnesota Law School professor who is teaching at Duke University Law School this year. The next, least-complicated scenario: A decision from the current court is appealed to the state Supreme Court, but with no further appeal or recourse to any other venue.

“I don’t think those two are likely,” Charles says. He sees the losing side pressing its case to the U.S. Supreme Court. But it may not get there. “I would be surprised if the court accepted the petition,” he says.

That would leave the state high court’s decision standing. “I think the decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court will be the final decision,” Charles says.

Still, do Minnesotans really want their next Senator being chosen by judges? Seems like I remember something like this happening 8 years ago and we weren’t too happy with the result.

Also, a decision like this immediately throws the Senator’s credibility into question, and that’s the exact opposite of what you want if you’re representing your state.

Last question…why haven’t we figured this stuff out by now? Because the idea that we’re still having issues with how we count votes is CRAZY.

Ugh.


This entry was posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2009 and is filed under Law, 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.

4 Responses to “Minnesota Senate Race Could Be Decided By Court?”

  1. gerryf Says:

    There is a difference between 8 years ago and today–8 years ago (well 9) was a disaster. With Bush leading by less than half a percent (1784 votes), Florida law required a mandatatory machine recount. That recount resulted in a dramatic reduction in votes for Bush–this is before the hanging chads and the requested recount, dropping his lead to 327 votes. Gore requested a recount in four counties, Bush filed a lawsuit to PREVENT the recount.

    I will even go so far as to say that Bush had a legitimate complaint–the four counties were clearly Democratic strongholds.

    Of course, nothing prevented Bush from requesting a recount in GOP strongholds–but we’ll ignore that for a moment

    A number of counties announced plans to recount ballots, and that’s when Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified the existing count and refused to accept any amendments and ordered any recounts to be halted.

    Did I mention that Harris was the Florida State Chairperson of the Elect George Bush campaign?

    Anyway, the Florida Supreme Court overruled Harris, but then the US Supreme Court in an unprecedented act, stepped in and upheld Harris’ decision, thus handing the election to Bush.

    Quite naturally, Republicans everywhere were outraged at the “activist” supreme court butting into the process….oh, wait. I dreamt that part.

    The Minnesota case is different. Now, the votes have been counted, counted again, and counted one more time. Coleman just doesn’t like the results of the count and is hoping the courts step in and give him results he does like.

  2. Nick Benjamin Says:

    In the US all disputed elections are decided by judges.

    In this case nothing could keep judges from deciding the election. Coleman has repeatedly agreed to one standard, stuck to it until he lost, and then made up a new standard. For example on Feb. 20th Coleman sued to un-count 100 ballots that had already been counted:
    http://www.startribune.com/39913652.html?elr=KArksD:aDyaEP:kD:aUq9_b9b_jEkP:QUiacyKU7DYaGEP7vDEh7P:DiUs

    He agreed that they counted. Until he found a semi-probable line of BS that would get his name in the paper, make the Minnesota Attorney General and Secretary of State look bad, and in general sound really bad.

    When one side is doing stupid stuff like that, and the election is close, it will always be decided by the Courts.

  3. John Burke Says:

    The thing to bear in mind is that exceedingly close election outcomes — where the plurality is withing one tenth of one percent of the votes cast or even less — courts almost always make the final decision. As the 2000 Florida experience shows, it can come down to which court decides but a court nonetheless.

    This is fundamentally because there is no such thing as a perfect election, even in the best run states and districts, when millions or even thousands of voters take part. After all, who can vote, where, when and how are all matters prescribed by law. So registration processes, access to polling places, hours of polling, staffing of polling places and staffing the counting process, deadlines for mailed or absentee ballots, and so on are activities that can easily become bones of contention when a few votes will turn an outcome. Even more, faulty marking of ballots by voters can create a virtual nightmare of interpretation. Even when this is done in as objective and straightforward a way as possible (and it may have been in Minnesota), the determinations made by election officials are — and really should be — subject to judicial review. The potential for such determinations to be driven by politics is always there, and the courts are more likely to produce an equitable result.

    In the end, of course, a result dictated by a court always seems arbitrary (to one side anyway), but it’s really the best way to resolve the unavoidable lack of clarity surrounding any razor thin election.

    A revote (aside from the cost) has the appearance of being fairer but it may or may not be, since circumstamces change and the candidate who might have won the first election may be disadvantaged in the second. In this case, I suspect that Franken would have a tougher time, since the GOP would be intensely focused on beating him and swing voters might find the argument for a better check on Democrats more alluring now that they know the lineup in Washington.

    Maybe the best of all procedures would be to flip a coin! Why not? When the election is within 200 votes out of millions cast, it;s effectively a tie.

  4. Joshua Says:

    How about this for a way to resolve close elections? “Ties” (after no more than one attempt at a recount) go to the challenger, or the non-incumbent-party candidate. Granted that would have meant my candidate would lose this time (I voted for Coleman), but it would be another, albeit rarely used method of keeping incumbents on their toes. Call it a poor man’s term limits.

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