The three judge panel convened for the purpose of addressing the Coleman challenge of the Minnesota Senate Election won by Al Franken (after a detailed recount) will meet today to examine ballots they had asked brought to the court. The panel had asked for four hundred ballots, but a small number of these (just over a dozen) had already been included in the recount and thus will not be examined.
The panel will examine the 387 or so ballots today, and decide which should be counted. Tomorrow, in a two step process the ballots will be opened by the judged (step one) and counted by court officials (step two).
It seems to be presumed that this is the final act of this panel, and that the panel will adjust the current vote count (from the recount) based by adding this new set of numbers. It is further presumed that candidate Al Franken will maintain his lead after his adjustment. That is a reasonable assumption given that it is statistically almost impossible for Coleman to erase and surpass Franken’s lead with this small number of ballots being considered. The presumption, then, is that this panel will conclude its business right after this adjustment, some time tomorrow.
I keep using the word “presumption” because I don’t believe the court has actually indicated that it is finished with this process. I’m expecting the court to take a few more days to produce a ruling, and possibly even allow additional arguments. The Coleman campaign, sensing defeat, has vowed to take this contest to the next level … the Minnesota Supreme Court. I’m certain that the election contest panel intends to send that court a decision that is as un-reversible as possible, and that is exactly what they should be doing. A little extra adjudicating around now may save a great deal of trouble later.