Coleman Actually Getting Somewhere Today?

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Norm Coleman’s legal team this morning appears to be accomplishing what they haven’t done much of for the last week: Doing something right.

The Coleman campaign has called Ramsey County (St. Paul) elections direct Joe Mansky to the stand, and they’re going over the training processes and overall procedures that go into accepting or rejecting absentee ballots. And the discussion has brought them to examining individual ballots that have still been rejected and kept out of the count.

Mansky was shown several examples where he said errors by elections officials in preparing the ballot — such as placing a sticker on top of the instructions or even blocking out portions that the voter was supposed to fill out — should effectively release the voter from the obligation to fill those out to the letter.

Mansky confirmed that some votes now exist out there that have not been counted and should not have been rejected — the central point of Coleman’s current quest to reopen the question of improperly-rejected absentees.Coleman attorney John Rock then took this one step further, asking Mansky to take a look at a ballot that was rejected because of a bad driver’s license number, which Mansky said is not a proper reason to exclude a ballot, and is not currently in the count. He then compared that a to a ballot in Ramsey County that was initially rejected for this same stated reason, but is now in the count after a number of previously-rejected ballots were opened up four weeks ago.

The Coleman team has been trying to demonstrate that variation in the treatment of ballots throughout the state — all done by individual human beings acting in good faith, and under officially uniform rules — has amounted to unequal treatment and a violation of equal protection. The testimony so far has gone some way in furthering this goal, though it remains to be seen whether they’ve met the legal threshold to take action.

So Coleman appears to be finding a decent footing today. This whole matter raises two questions: 1) Can he obtain a re-review of the absentee ballots under more permissive standards; and 2) Would a full and fair resolution of these problems, sans any cherry-picking, result in gains for him?

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