Coleman Lawyer: Previous Decisions Don’t Count If They Hurt Voters

In the Minnesota election trial this afternoon, Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg continued to lay out the campaign’s reasoning for why their previous decisions in the recount shouldn’t be an issue here under the doctrines of estoppel and invited error: The voters of Minnesota should not be bound by Coleman’s prior agreement to arrangements that were illegal to begin with.

While exploring the issue of whether some absentee ballots were improperly copied and double-counted, Friedberg asked Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann how he had come to arrive at his office’s directives on how to handle this issue during the recount — and why he asked the campaigns for approval.

“The interested parties, the parties that have a stake in the outcome of the hand recount,” Gelbmann said, “if you can get an agreement from both parties that the process you’re going to use is acceptable to the parties, you would assume you would not have an issue before the final outcome.”Friedberg then brought up this idea of the “interested parties” meaning the candidates — and not referring to the voters. “How could the candidates and the Secretary of State’s office enter into an agreement,” Friedberg added, “that allowed voters’ votes in the state of Minnesota to be counted more than once. Do you believe you had the power to do that?”

Gelbmann’s response was that he did the best he could in the situation — and after further discussion, he allowed that candidate approval was not required: “If you go with your supposition that ballots were counted more than once and we could have come up with a process that eliminated that, of course we would have went with it.”