The Franken campaign just held a conference call with reporters — quite understandably celebrating a huge win in tonight’s ruling by the Minnesota election court, which rejected out of hand counting a large number of absentee ballots that Norm Coleman had been seeking to put into play.
Lead Franken lawyer Marc Elias said that the court has essentially ruled on all 19 disputed categories of rejected absentee ballots — explicitly against Coleman on 13 of them, and the others are revealed between the lines. “There are four additional categories that the court didn’t address either way, but the reasoning of the court would suggest that we also prevailed on those,” Elias said. “So there are a total of 17 of the 19 that it appears we’ve prevailed on, either explicitly or implicitly in the reasoning.”
Elias said the Franken campaign appears to have lost on two categories where they wanted some permissiveness, relating to registration issues — but those rulings were consistent with the others. All in all, he counts this as an extraordinary victory, making Coleman’s job of putting additional ballots into the count immensely more difficult.“I think the takeaway from this opinion is that the court is going to require that ballots that are proffered to be counted meet the exacting standards of the law,” Elias said, adding that “a party seeking to include a ballot in the count will have to meet an exacting burden of proof, demonstrating that the ballot meets each and every requirement, and element of the statute, in order to be counted.”
Elias also addressed the Coleman campaign’s claim that the exclusion of improperly-cast ballots was a violation of Equal Protection — that since negligence by some election officials in the state allowed similar ballots in elsewhere, the outstanding ones have to be counted, too. The court didn’t explicitly address this idea yet, Elias said, but the exclusions here and the requirement of a high burden of proof to show that a ballot was properly cast would appear to shoot down Coleman’s arguments.
More details will emerge over the weekend, as the campaigns and the media sort through Coleman’s pool of 4,800 ballots that he’s been advocating for, and figure out how many (or few) of them are left. But so far the Franken campaign has some genuine reason to be happy.