Court Rules On Franken Effort To Limit Coleman’s Evidence: Yes And No

The Minnesota election court just handed down a ruling on a key motion by Al Franken’s legal team, seeking to limit the scope of Norm Coleman’s inquiry into rejected absentee ballots.

And it turns out they’ve split the difference. Coleman’s lawyers have alternately been talking about looking at all 11,000 remaining absentee ballots that have been rejected, or just looking at 4,797 of them, while Franken wants to limit Coleman to a prior list of 654.

The court is allowing Coleman to continue presenting evidence on the 4,797, which had been disclosed to the Franken camp in the summary judgment filings before the trial began. But that’s it.It’s hard to tell what impact this might have. These ballots are obviously cherry-picked for votes that Coleman’s people believe would break heavily his way, but it seems very unlikely that they would actually be able to get a great deal of them admitted. They’ve been bringing some of those same aggrieved voters to the witness stand, to plead for their ballots — and in quite a few cases they’ve been total duds.

Speaking to reporters earlier, head Franken lawyer Marc Elias said the decision was neither a loss nor a win for his own side, and was glad that the universe of ballots that Coleman would be allowed to plead was now definite and limited. “And I suspect the number that were improperly-rejected will be quite a bit smaller,” Elias said.

The Franken campaign is also getting ready to present evidence on 771 votes that they’ve selected, too, and we’ll see how thoroughly they did their homework once their turn comes up.

Late Update: At his own press conference, Coleman lawyer Ben Ginsberg proclaimed the decision to have been a big win, and predicted that “the vast majority of them are valid votes that will come in.”

“With the inclusion of these ballots,” Ginsberg added later, “we’ll know that all the valid votes are counted, as long as they’re allowed in over all the procedural — the picky motions of the Franken campaign.”

(Special thanks to The Uptake for carrying the Elias and Ginsberg pressers.)

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