Another series of arguments took place in the Minnesota election court today, as lead Franken lawyer Marc Elias argued the campaign’s motion to dismiss Norm Coleman’s whole lawsuit, either in whole or at least partially.
Some good news: The “partially” part is now guaranteed, as Coleman lawyer James Langdon agreed during his counter-argument that the claims in the suit that weren’t argued when Team Coleman presented its case have been abandoned and could be dismissed.
The others, as you can imagine, remained very contentious.
Elias reiterated his charge that Coleman has failed to present evidence on the absentee ballots he wanted to present — and pointed out how Coleman’s numbers seem to use a different standard, noting that they don’t have the full registration information.
“I think a clue to where they get their number — and I may be wrong, it’s found in their brief — because their brief seems to take the position that the registration of voter and witness is at this point optional.”
Elias quoted a part of Coleman’s latest brief, saying the lack of registration information “should not be dispositive” because of clerical errors in the system. “It’s an essential element to prove that the voter was registered and the witness was registered,” Elias said. “This court ruled that a month ago. A month ago.”“They chose how to put on their case,” Elias added later. “They chose not to call more voters. They chose not to introduce more applications. They chose not to prove registration. Maybe they made the choices they did because their claims have no merit.”
Elias acknowledged that courts usually do not dismiss a case right after the plaintiff has rested, but he said the option is always available — and the state needs a Senator. “I would submit that this is exactly the kind of case where judgment should be granted at the close of contestant’s case.”
Coleman lawyer James Langdon responded. “To listen to Mr. Elias, it’s been a complete waste of time,” said Langdon. “Contestants have proved nothing, the court has learned nothing, Minnesota has learned nothing about this election and how its electoral system works. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Langdon said the evidence shows that ballots have been excluded in some counties when similarly-flawed ballots were counted elsewhere, demonstrating two things: That the counties themselves used a substantial compliance standard that should be applied uniformly, and that leaving things as they are is a violation of the constitutional right to Equal Protection.
As for the incomplete data in his evidence, Langdon blamed the clerical errors in the statewide voter database*, saying they’ve effectively altered the requirements for more information: “We have demonstrated that the system is ultimately unreliable, at least on this point on such an important issue as whether a voter is registered or a witness is registered if that’s what this court is going to rely on in determining whether a ballot was legally cast.”
Langdon summed up his case, against dismissal: “We believe that we have presented competent, persuasive evidence so that on a preponderance of the evidence, this court can find that there are a material number of ballots that should not have been rejected — and by material I mean a significantly larger number than 225.”
(*Note: As we learned a couple days ago, the database is broken because of this case, and the backlog of work it has created for election workers throughout the state.)