Today's courtroom proceedings in the Minnesota election trial ended a little while ago, and looking back on the day something is becoming clear: After a week of one comedic misstep after another, the Coleman legal team seems to have finally gotten its act together and managed to score some points -- and take some interesting risks, too.
While examining Ramsey County (St. Paul) elections director Joe Mansky this morning, Coleman attorney John Rock was able to secure an expert opinion that the most likely reason for some of the voting discrepancies that Coleman has complained about is that a number of absentee ballots were accidentally counted twice, thanks to a duplication process for damaged ballots and a failure to label them properly.
The Coleman camp has maintained that Franken has netted about 110 votes out of this process, using about two-dozen specifically picked Democratic precincts. Winning this claim would cut Franken's 225-vote lead in half -- though the Franken camp's legal filings have also shown they could play this game, too, and subtract a net 34 votes for Coleman. But obviously this is not a place the Franken camp wants to go.
The Franken camp will have the opportunity on Monday to cross-examine Mansky, at which time they will be exploring alternative explanations and the difficulties in calculating this stuff.
Now, let's take a look at the calculated risk they also took.
The Coleman team stated this afternoon that they're not objecting to an intervention brought by over 60 rejected absentee voters, who are believed to be almost entirely Franken-backers, and will support counting those votes.
"We think all these votes should be counted," said Coleman lawyer James Langdon, "and we think all the rejected absentee ballots throughout the state that are just like these should be counted as well."
Now remember: Coleman is currently trying to get his own stack of rejected envelopes, numbering 4,500 to 5,000 out of the total 11,000 outstanding ballots, put in the count.
In short, the Coleman camp is wagering that if they make a gesture of good faith by letting in this batch of Franken votes, they can leverage it and use it as a precedent for their own cherry-picked ballots, and potentially pull ahead against Franken's other selected voters.
At his press conference during today's lunch hour, Norm Coleman was asked about the fact that he wouldn't even know about his rejected voters if not for Franken's earlier activism on the subject. "Listen," Coleman said, "there's a lot of irony in this process."