Al Franken’s legal team been cross-examining Ramsey County (St. Paul) elections director Joe Mansky, making up some solid ground after Coleman’s lawyers scored some points this past Friday.
Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton went over Mansky’s opinion on Friday, affirming the likelihood of absentee ballots being double-counted thanks to a duplication process for damaged ballots, and a failure to label some of them properly. This error, to the extent that it might have happened, would result in an unfair gain for Al Franken because of his own overall edge in absentee ballots — and the fact that the Coleman campaign has confined this line of inquiry to a handful of deep-blue precincts in the Twin Cities.
But Hamilton was able to secure from Mansky an agreement that any number of other factors can cause an apparent surplus of votes.For example, absentee ballots might have been sent to the wrong precinct on Election Day, but would have only been counted and added into the correct precinct’s totals during the recount — and wouldn’t have been added to the precinct roster. Or the overworked precinct election judges might have failed to mark off on the roster that a particular person had cast their vote by absentee, thus causing an apparent surplus of accepted absentee ballots.
Hamilton got Mansky to agree that it would certainly be a bad thing to jump to conclusions that there was double-counting — against all the internal safeguards that the duplication process itself contains — and throw out votes.
“And again, if we don’t count them, then those voters would be disenfranchised,” said Hamilton.
“That’s right,” said Mansky.
This is a very important point for the Franken camp to be making. The Coleman camp needs the double-counting issue to be an easy, cut and dried thing that can be corrected by simply going through the spreadsheets and chopping off excess votes. But if it turns out that an apparent excess vote total doesn’t really represent a surplus of votes, then the burden of proof becomes much higher in any instance where Coleman wants to start subtracting from Franken’s column.