Coleman’s Apparent Argument On Appeal: I Won — Or Nobody Did

April 21, 2009 7:06 am

The latest legal filing from Norm Coleman’s legal team, officially registering their appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial, seems to contain an interesting pair of contingency plans when it quickly lays out exactly what his case is: That either votes should be counted showing that he is the winner — or that no winner can be determined at all.

The filing is not a complicated brief, but a quick summary of what Coleman’s points will be at a later date. It mainly focused on Coleman’s claim that thousands of rejected absentee ballots that he identified ought to be counted, if he can get a standard of admission less than the strict compliance with the law demanded by the court.

But then it adds this:

II. Whether the trial court violated the constitutional protections of equal protection and due process when it declared that Respondent received the highest number of “legally cast votes” where the record demonstrated that, by the trial court’s rulings, the number of “illegally cast” ballots counted on election day and during the recount greatly exceeded the margin between the candidates and it cannot be determined for which candidate those illegal votes were counted?

What this means in plain English is that the Coleman campaign wants to overturn the strict standards and get their selected ballots in. But if they can’t do so, and are still behind in the count, then they argue that this means there are other absentee ballots already in the count that don’t meet these standards. And thus, they would argue, we can’t determine who actually won.

Coleman attorney Jim Langdon had previously floated the idea to the trial judges that the election results be “set aside,” but they didn’t bite. This sort of language, however, shows that they’re keeping this line of argument alive.

It’s a bit of a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose argument.

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