As you’ve probably heard, the Minnesota election court has just handed down their very much-awaited ruling: That Al Franken was the rightful winner of the most votes in the 2008 Senate election, and he is entitled to receive the certificate of election.
To make a long story short, the court — who, by the way, are a rare tri-partisan selection of judges — rejects pretty much every single argument that Team Coleman put forward, and either accepts all of Team Franken’s arguments as is or in a somewhat modified form.
So where do we go from here?Now remember, this is not the end. The Coleman campaign has already announced its intention to appeal, which means this thing will be going next to the Supreme Court, and a certificate of election can’t issue until at least after the state Supreme Court rules (and the Coleman camp has already signaled that they’ll work to stop one from issuing after the state Supremes rule).
The appeals will be based on these two claims, for starters, and how the court dealt with them:
Rejected Absentees, And The 14th Amendment
The Coleman campaign has argued that thousands more rejected absentee ballots from their campaign’s list should have been declared valid and counted. Coleman’s lawyers have contended that the court’s requirement of strict legal standards to admit ballots is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process, due to the way counties were lenient in various ways when it came to certain requirements, and in turn that the variation in the counties’ leniency amounted to to a violation of equal protection.
Here the court plays a fun trick: Since Team Coleman spent so much time citing Bush v. Gore, the court quotes that (in)famous decision’s declaration that it was limited only to that case. That is, the 2000 Supreme Court essentially declared that their decision wasn’t a far-reaching precedent, and this court applies that in a straightforward manner here, citing the different circumstances of Minnesota.
Possible Double-Counted Votes
The Coleman camp has contended that Franken benefitted by anywhere from 60 to over 100 votes due to double-counted absentee ballots, stemming from human errors on Election Night in labeling duplicates of damaged original absentees. But here the court really lets Coleman have it: His campaign drew up the procedures used to count these ballots, insisted on strict adherence even when problems became apparent, and did not object to them until it was far too late.
And the court notes that other explanations exist for possible double-counting — for example, a precinct where accepted absentee ballots weren’t marked on the rosters on Election Night. And since Coleman failed to present clear evidence that double-counts actually occurred, that means he can’t get the relief he wants — to chop votes off of Franken’s totals.
You might be forgiven for thinking that Minnesota is located in the Arctic Circle — after all, the Election Night is now five months long, going on six.