Franken Lawyer: Al Won; Coleman Legal Spokesman: We’ll Appeal

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April 7, 2009 10:05 am
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At post-court press conference, lead Franken attorney Marc Elias commented that the election contest is essentially over, with Al Franken the winner after the court had 351 previously-rejected ballots counted, which boosted Franken’s lead from 225 votes to 312.

“Today is a very important step, as we now know the outcome of the election contest,” said Elias, “and that is the same outcome as the recount, which is that Al Franken has more votes than Norm Coleman.”

When asked whether he expected Coleman to appeal, Elias said: “That’s a question at this point for former Sen. Coleman. I guess I would say the same thing about his appeal as I said about his case: That the U.S. court system is a wonderful thing, as it’s open to people with non-meritorious claims.”

In all seriousness, Elias also said that Coleman had weeks to lay out his case, call witnesses and produce evidence that he was the winner, in a very transparent process that involved members of all parties — and that he has failed to do so, losing net votes at every stage of the process.

At one point, a reporter asked Elias what would happen if he found himself in front of Justice Scalia a year from now, arguing about Coleman’s claims of equal protection. What would he say? “The only chance I’ll wind up before Justice Scalia talking about equal protection a year from now is if we meet in a diner in Bethesda,” Elias said, to the laughter of the reporters. “So I don’t think that is at all a likelihood.”After the Elias presser, it was Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg’s turn. Ginsberg, a veteran of the Bush legal team in the 2000 Florida recount, reiterated that this is not the end.

“Today was good in the sense that 351 people had their votes counted,” said Ginsberg. We are saddened and disappointed that it was only 351. It should have been about ten times more than that. And so because those voters remain disenfranchised in the state of Minnesota, that has always wanted to enfranchise voters and not disenfranchise them, and because we feel that there are significant errors in this trial court and how it ran this case, particularly the Friday the 13th order (Note: This was a ruling that required strict standards for letting in previously-rejected ballots), we will be appealing this to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

Ginsberg said that if more votes were counted — that is, the 4,800 that Coleman had previously argued for in an unsuccessful motion for summary judgment early on — Coleman would have picked up votes, rather than lost net votes today.

Ginsberg complained of various issues in this case: That the ballots approved by the court were slanted toward precincts won by Franken; that the court illegally created new rules in the middle of the game by requiring strict standards, when counties had used various sorts of leniency; and that the state’s voter database is flawed; and that the court has taken an attitude of trying to preserve Minnesota’s system as it stands.

“That means when you get an election this close,” Ginsberg said, “you can’t tell who won.”

One other thing: Reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger from the St. Paul Pioneer Press asked Ginsberg during the press conference if he had information to back up his rhetoric on the 351 ballots coming from Franken precincts. He replied that the facts were there, if reporters would do the reporting on them. Immediately after the presser she continued to press him for the specific data, and he repeatedly told her to go back and look at the precincts.

(Press conferences c/o The Uptake.)

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