Is Coleman Aiming for a Do-Over Election?

February 2, 2009 10:46 am

The Coleman team appears to be laying out a continued strategy of casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Minnesota election result by pointing to a fundamental underlying idea of this dispute: The margin of error is simply too big in a race this close.

“Is there some point at which the margin of error is just too wide compared to the difference in votes to determine who truly won?” Coleman lawyer John Rock asked Ramsey County (St. Paul) elections director Joe Mansky. Mansky replied that there is absolutely such a point, with accuracy topping out at over 99.9%.

“All of which is pretty good,” Mansky said. “But remember that one in every thousand is not an issue when somebody wins by 200,000 votes. When they win by 200 votes, the margin of error in our computation is likely large enough to have an impact on our result, and I think that’s the situation that we find ourselves in here.”Of course, this opens up the question of how Coleman could justify any finding of a win for himself, since even a mathematically possible Coleman victory margin would be too narrow for these purposes. At this point we’re looking at Nate Silver’s hypothesis, that Coleman might be aiming for a do-over election as a possible outcome.

Franken’s legal team didn’t like the idea of continuing to cast doubt on the accuracy of the recount — or whether such a thing as accuracy is even possible here — and successfully objected on the basis of Mansky’s credentials to comment. Franken lawyer Kevin Hamilton asked Mansky how many statewide recounts he’s been involved with, as opposed to the local recounts he’s conducted.

The answer: Only one.

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