Monday, January 5, 2009

Minnesota Senate Race: It's Franken - Game, Set, Match

The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously denied Norm Coleman's lawsuit seeking to count an additional 650 absentee ballots that local election officials had thrown out:

"The record before us with respect to petitioners' motion demonstrates that local election officials have acted diligently and in accordance with our orders, and together with the candidates have agreed upon more than 900 rejected absentee ballots, which have now been opened and counted by the Secretary of State's office."
Because the parties and the respective counties have not agreed as to any of these additional ballots, the merits of this dispute (and any other disputes with respect to absentee ballots) are the proper subjects of an election contest under Minn. Stat. ch. 209."

The only recourse left to Coleman is to challenge the election outcome once the final results are announced, which should happen later today. Because the burden of proof lies with Coleman, the likelyhood of overturning Franken's win is slim.

From Lead Franken attorney Marc Elias:

"Today, the Supreme Court once again affirmed the validity of the rules under which this recount was conducted. Minnesotans have waited a long time for a winner to be declared in this race, and today, with the last attempt to halt the counting process now having failed, Al Franken will be declared the winner."

And from Fritz Knaak, Norm Coleman's chief recount lawyer:

"Today’s ruling, which effectively disregards the votes of hundreds of Minnesotans, ensures that an election contest is now inevitable. The Coleman campaign has consistently and continually fought to have every validly cast vote counted, and for the integrity of Minnesota’s election system, we will not stop now."

Meanwhile Chuck Schumer, as the outgoing chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, declares that Al Franken has won the Minnesota Senate race and should be seated:

"With the Minnesota recount complete, it is now clear that Al Franken won the election. The Canvassing Board will meet tomorrow to wrap up its work and certify him the winner, and while there are still possible legal issues that will run their course, there is no longer any doubt who will be the next Senator from Minnesota. Even if all the ballots Coleman claims were double counted or erroneously added were resolved in his favor, he still wouldn't have enough votes to win. With the Senate set to begin meeting on Tuesday to address the important issues facing the nation, it is crucial that Minnesota's seat not remain empty, and I hope this process will resolve itself as soon as possible."

NRSC chairman John Cornyn says the Republican caucus will filibuster any attempt to seat Franken as long the Coleman challenges are still winding their way through the courts.

Fasten your seat belts, kids. This could be a bumpy ride.


According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the doors to Norm Coleman's Senate offices were locked this morning at the direction of Senate rules committee officials who declared his term expired.

"They can't carry on Senate business," said Howard Gantman, staff director for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

Coleman, in a statement issued at mid-day, said "without question this is a unique situation in the history of the Senate, and specifics are still being determined as to the future of the Senate office."


Franken declares victory:

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