The Minnesota election court has just handed down a very important ruling that will determine the entire course of the rest of this trial — and it’s very bad news for Norm Coleman, cutting off multiple avenues he was pursuing in order to get more votes for himself thrown into the count.
Yesterday the court heard arguments regarding the campaigns’ positions on 19 categories of rejected absentee ballot envelopes, and whether the voters should be cut sufficient slack as to allow the ballot in. The court has now handed down a ruling on 13 of those categories — and it’s an emphatic No.
Coleman has currently been allowed to argue for the inclusion of about 4,800 ballots, which were selected from the total pool of over 11,000 rejected votes and just so happen to come largely from his own strongholds. What this ruling means is that he is going to have to significantly chop that list down for the remainder of this trial.
This is not the final word on this question — Coleman will almost certainly appeal it — but it’s been a very rough day.The court rejected Coleman’s contention that swaths of citizens have been unjustly denied their votes: “The court is confident that although it may discover certain additional ballots that were legally cast under relevant law, there is no systemic problem of disenfranchisement in the state’s election system, including in its absentee-balloting procedures.”
The court also walked back an approach they’d previously been looking at — that a ballot could be accepted if any non-compliance by the voter could be blamed on an election official failing to instruct or correct them. Instead, they say full compliance is needed for the categories laid out here.
Next, they don’t just reject categories of ballots as having been illegally cast, but they singled out a specific voter that Coleman brought forward as a witness. The court identifies Douglas Thompson — who admitted in court that his girlfriend forged his signature on the ballot application, but was demanding his vote be counted because he signed the ballot envelope — as an example of an illegally cast vote that shall not be counted.
And in perhaps the cruelest cut of all, the court embraced Coleman’s approach of adopting categories of ballots — for the purposes of eliminating them: “Although the Court rejects the categories initially proposed by Contestants, it nonetheless believes that trial in this matter can be streamlined by ruling that certain categories of ballots are not legally cast as a matter of law.”