After a series of rulings that have seriously hurt his ability to get new votes into the count, the Coleman campaign is now trying to pull off something of a Hail Mary pass to get ballots in — and of course, the Franken camp wants to stop them.
Yesterday, the Coleman camp sent e-mails to county officials, asking them to certify that selected absentee voters whose ballots have been rejected did in fact meet all the legal requirements pertaining to voter-registration. The Franken campaign jumped on this immediately, sending messages to the counties to not respond, and filing a motion with the court to forbid it.
This morning’s arguments got pretty heated. Franken lawyer Kevin Hamilton argued that this violated all the basic rules of evidence — officials are being asked to phone it in, rather than testify in court and be subject to cross-examination.Coleman lawyer James Langdon responded that Franken was running down the reliability of Minnesota’s hard-working elections officials. “It continues to be part of their effort, as we see it, to obstruct the presentation of evidence and contestant’s effort to enfranchise voters,” Langdon said. He even said that Franken’s lawyers should be reprimanded for telling the local officials to not respond — a mirror image of Team Franken’s own calls for legal sanctions against the Coleman side.
Hamilton responded that the experience of this whole trial has shown just how vital cross-examination is. “Statements made from that witness stand that once seemed 100% certain, flipped 180 degrees in cross-examination,” Hamilton, because election officials were shown contrary evidence to convince them that a ballot should or should not count.
Hamilton readily conceded Langdon’s point that asking local officials to e-mail in their opinion is easier than having them travel to St. Paul — but this proves too much, he said, demonstrating just how important actual testimony is.
So what do we take away from this? Over the course of this whole trial, Coleman has probably succeeded in getting at least a few ballots counted, pending the judges’ rulings down the road — but those cross-examinations by the Franken team demolished a huge number of others, especially yesterday.
In short, Team Coleman wants to find a new way to work through the system. And the Franken folks want to keep the proceedings under the current rules, right where they are.