Minnesota Court: No To Coleman, And Yes/No/Maybe To Franken

The Minnesota election court handed down two rulings tonight, one of which should be regarded as an unambiguous defeat for Norm Coleman — and the other should probably leave Al Franken cautiously optimistic.

First, the court completely denied Coleman’s motion to launch a class-action suit on behalf of all 11,000-plus voters whose absentee ballots have still not been counted. The court found that the state’s election laws make clear that individuals may apply to have their ballots counted, but that groups cannot be created and represented for this purpose.

The court also handed down a summary judgment on Franken’s efforts to get some of his own votes counted, and they’ve given him a go-ahead on 12 individuals to be accepted and counted at a later time. And to give you an idea of how strict a standard they’re using here, there are 38 others on Franken’s list they’re refusing to count at this time.

That kind of stringency isn’t very good news for Coleman, as he’s trying to get a lot of his own votes in that the court hasn’t ruled on yet. And considering he’s the one who’s actually behind right now, this question has a lot more urgency for him.In a very interesting turn, the court denied Franken’s motion to dismiss Coleman’s challenge of the state canvassing board’s decision to count the Election Night totals in a Minneapolis precinct that lost an envelope full of ballots, a move that saved Al from a net loss of 46 votes. On the other hand, the court appeared to drop some hints about where they could be going.

First of all, the court gave a brief overview of the case and said “it became evident that 130 ballots were missing,” acknowledging the evidence at hand. Second, they acknowledged all the case law that Team Franken have cited in favor of their own legal claim.

But here’s the catch: They say that the existence of the ballots themselves continues to be a question of fact for the court to examine. Coleman’s team hasn’t yet called the Minneapolis election officials to the stand, which is expected to happen this week, so expect the court to address this question some time afterward.

Meanwhile, the Coleman campaign has already started digging in on Franken’s list of 1,585 rejected ballots to be reviewed for possible counting, and they might have found some bad ones. In fact, they’ve put up a blog post with this headline: “Disregarding Rights Of Minnesotans, Franken Seeks To Have Illegal Votes Counted.”