Minnesota Election Court… Sorting… Ballots… Slowly

This morning’s proceedings in the Minnesota election trial show just how the court will be moving from here on out in the wake of yesterday’s important rulings regarding absentee ballots: Very, very, very slowly.

Yesterday’s rulings declared that Coleman can continue to advocate on behalf of a pool of 4,797 ballots — but that he has to argue for them one by one, rather than getting the sweeping ruling he wanted to automatically count them.

And reviewing envelopes one by one is exactly what Friedberg is doing. Friedberg is going down a list of ballots with Kevin Corbid, the head elections official for Washington County, and asking for any information Corbid can give about why they were rejected. In many cases Friedberg has withdrawn the ballot after Corbid gave a satisfactory answer, while others have been left for a future ruling by the three-judge panel.

Keep in mind that there are 4,797 total ballots that Coleman is looking over. There are also 87 counties in Minnesota, and furthermore Hennepin County (Minneapolis) has its individual municipalities running the elections. So if we go through this process for every single ballot, it’s going to take a long time.One judge has been fairly open about how annoying this can all be — Hennepin County Judge Denise Reilly, who was appointed to the bench in the 1990’s by Republican Governor Arne Carlson. At one point Friedberg asked Corbid for a detailed opinion about a particular signature, leading Franken’s team to object. “Sustained,” Reilly said, with a hint of giggling. “I see the witness shrugging.”

Later on, Friedberg reiterated that at one point he’d previously asked for all the ballots to just be opened, if Franken would agree. Reilly shot back: “Well, the court ruled on your motion for summary judgment yesterday, and denied that request.”

Tomorrow the state Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in Franken’s case that he’s entitled to a certificate of election immediately, which could get him into the Senate while the case continues on the sidelines. This would be one possible solution, but don’t count on it until it actually happens.