Franken Wins Court Battle, Unclear if Pawlenty will Sign


The Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected a legal challenge by Norm Coleman, thereby leaving the vote count determined by an election contest judicial panel placing Franken in the lead standing.

The basis of the Coleman legal challenge is was essentially that all abentee votes shoudl be counted no matter what, because they are, after all, votes.

The reason that is bad election procedure and bad law is that absentee voting is subject to serious abuses, and thus demands a certain amount of procedural control. This has been established previously. The absentee ballots that were not counted in this contest were all in violation of standing procedural rules. Coleman wanted those rules ignored so that the votes could be counted, Franken simply asked that the law be followed.

The court decided in favor of Franken.

…because strict compliance with the statutory requirements for absentee voting is, and always has been required, there is no basis on which voters could have reasonably believed that anything less than strict compliance would suffice…

This, by the way, is one of the reasons that I never vote absentee. You should not either.

Now, the question remains: Will Governor Tim Pawlenty, Republican presidential hopeful, certify the election? The Minnesota State Supreme Court did not specifically order Pawlenty to do so, so there is a chance he won’t.

Pawlenty made these statements during an interview on CNN last Sunday:

I’m not going to defy an order of the Minnesota Supreme Court. That would be a dereliction of my duty … I’m going to follow the direction of the court … I also expect them to give guidance and direction as to the certificate of election. I’m prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light.

Well, as far as I know, the court did NOT give Pawlenty a “green light” or “guidance and direction.” It seems to me that he spoke on Sunday in such a way as to leave open the possibility of not signing the election certificate.

The court said, specifically, “Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled … to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.” That is clear, but it is not direction. It is guidance, but it is not a “green light.” And keep in mind that Tim Pawlenty is as smarmy and slimy and slippery as they come ’round these parts.

Of course, Coleman could just concede. But no one expects that. The only person smarmier than Pawlenty ’round these parts is Norm Coleman.

We wait. With baited breath.

WCCO reported the story here.

Star tribune reported the story here.

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0 thoughts on “Franken Wins Court Battle, Unclear if Pawlenty will Sign

  1. And keep in mind that Tim Pawlenty is as smarmy and slimy and slippery as they come ’round these parts.

    The only person smarmier than Pawlenty ’round these parts is Norm Coleman.

    That sounds about right. 🙂

  2. Coleman has a press conference at 3pm and Franken has one at 4:15.

    I have no doubts that Coleman will continue to hold this state hostage. But, I am still celebrating this as a victory!!! GO AL!!!!!!

  3. Why your reticence about voting absentee, Greg? My reading of your excerpt of the court’s decision says absentee votes are subject to the same strict compliance as in-person votes. Absentee is as good as in-person provided election officials do their jobs properly. I can’t speak for anyone else but as an election official I know that I take my duty seriously. The system is set up to prevent fraud and/or error. My two cents… Thanks.

  4. This, by the way, is one of the reasons that I never vote absentee. You should not either.

    Unless of course you’re going to be absent and unable to vote in person.

  5. Good to see Coleman finally show a modicum of class with a courteous concession speech. It’s in Pawlenty’s best interest to get off his butt and certift Franken quickly. I’m no liberal, but it was pretty clear from the get-go that Coleman was not going to win the case, and when the ballots that Coleman clearly expected to break his way went Franken’s instead, insult was added to injury not only for Coleman but for Minnesotans who deserved full representation in the Senate.

  6. Although in the words of Geoffrey Taylor:
    Sally, having swallowed cheese,
    Directs down holes the scented breeze,
    Enticing thus with baited breath
    Nice mice to an untimely death.

  7. This, by the way, is one of the reasons that I never vote absentee. You should not either.

    I disagree. I see nothing wrong with absentee voting. I find the whole process of standing in line a pain in the behind. It’s ridiculous.

    I had permanent (no fault) absentee status in my last state (for about 20 years). They even published a voter’s guide for every election, something MN should be doing too. I could sit in the comfort of my home and vote deliberately and with data at my fingertips. Oregon even has 100% mail-in voting.

    You’re probably just as likely to not have your vote counted either way. As long as you get the absentee ballot in in time (hello? OK, I know this may be an issue for military personnel; but they don’t have achoice anyway — if they are away, they have to vote absentee) and fill in the blanks properly on the absentee ballot cover (nothing more than name, address and signature, plus witness signature) you shoud have no worries. The ballot itself is exactly the same as those used at the “regular” polling places.

    Much was made about rejected absentee ballots. This has not been balanced by a discussion of rejected, uncountable, erroneous, etc. regular ballots and the prevention of voting at the regular polls. Some persepctive is needed here.

  8. JBlilie, if you vote in person in most (all?) of Minnesota, your ballot is scanned at the time you vote. If you’ve screwed something up, the machine tells you and you get a do-over. You don’t get that feedback with absentee voting.

  9. Billie, as Stephanie has said, you have this totally wrong in many ways, but all in ways that most people who don’t know what they are talking about (almost everybody) also has wrong.

    By the way, has anyone read the US constitution lately? None of the absentee votes are valid for President.

  10. As JBlilie pointed out 100% of the votes cast here in Oregon are absentee (mail-in). I’m pretty sure our votes counted, I mean we sent electors to the college and everything…

  11. As JBlilie pointed out 100% of the votes cast here in Oregon are absentee (mail-in). I’m pretty sure our votes counted, I mean we sent electors to the college and everything…

  12. Of course if you can’t figure the ballot out (or the instructions to avoid double posting) then maybe you shouldn’t be voting in the first place (exempt Florida).

    Seriously though, don’t all polling places (and our OR county elections offices) have folks on hand to assist the however disabled?

  13. Dodger: Comparing any two states and saying “X is working here therefore it will work there” is like saying “Oh, I’ve got an extra set of head gaskets for some car I used to own, don’t remember the model, they’ll work in your car…”

    Typically, absentee ballots are considered suspicious because for a century or so they were used to stuff ballot boxes. They still are.

    Why, during the Franken Coleman recount, I met an elected official who told us (bragging) that when he was in the military, his job was to take all the absentee ballots from the ship he was on and fill 90 percent of them out for the Republican candidates (for president, generally) and 5 percent or so for the Dem (to make it look good), and toss the rest. This was standard practice. That is par of the reason that people think military people vote for Republicans all the time. Thank you Richard Nixon.

    Therefore, Absentee ballot procedures traditionally have been changed to increase security from this sort of practice.

    The ballots Coleman wanted counted were all the suspicious ballots that were put aside because no one could be certain that they were valid. If you vote with absentee ballots in Minnesota or most states, you have to follow certain rules and if you screw the rules up you don’t get counted.

    Oregon has done something entirely different. Oregon has decided to make voting something that is not by default a thing that happens in the voting booth. In Oregon, Absentee ballots is not a backup procedure.

    Now, in many states, and this is very troubling to me, absentee ballots have become something used by more and more people for whatever lame ass excuse they have for not going out on election day. And in this context, when elections are close, you seriously risk having your vote not matter because if you are lazy enough to not vote on voting day you may also have been lazy enough to not pay attention in school and you are probably a moron who can’t fill out a form. So guess what. You threw away your vote.

    (Well, the chances of this conjuncture of moron-osity happening are not great, but it certainly happened to a few thousand Minnesotans this year.)

    I assume Oregon has some … system … that makes this all go away. Either that or you are all a bunch of morons. I’ve heard people in Oregon are smart, so I’m betting for the former. But it seems that if your system has distance voting as your default, then you would not have a system with a lot of room for error. Good luck with that.

    Meantime, yes, I believe that the US Constitution requires that all the votes be cast on the same day. We happen to interpret “casting” the vote as something that is done for you in the case of an absentee vote, and that is allowed because people have special requirements like they are on some Navy ship somewhere, or at a embassy, or ill, or whatever. But now, the absentee vote is used for people who just don’t feel like going to vote on election day. This could probably be challenged.

    I prefer that people vote on the same day. There are good reasons the founding dead white guys specified this. I also think we should be able to do this on the internet.

    But it needs to be done with open source software.

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