The Eclectic Quill

June 1, 2009

The Coleman v. Franken Primer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 6:25 pm

If you start looking at all the mainstream media’s reports of Coleman v. Franken’s appearance before the Minnesota Supreme court today you’d be hard pressed to find evidence of the “liberal media.” It seems the vast majority have two things in common. First they present what Coleman’s complaint is, that there’s inequity in how the votes were counted in Republican counties versus Democratic counties, and second, that the Supreme Court is going to decide in favor of Franken. What you won’t find is much of a discussion about why the consensus is why Coleman has no chance of winning, which is that he has no actual case. As a result of this type of coverage there are a lot of misperceptions about what the case is here and I want to present those, and the answers to them here.

First, let’s consider what Coleman’s case comes down to. There are four legal reasons you not only can, but must refuse a Minnesota absentee ballot. These are an unsigned ballot, the ballot is cast by an unregistered voter, a voter has moved, and the voter has voted more than once. Of these two particularly can be judgment calls, although on its surface it might not seem that way. Number one, a person might not be able to sign their name but sign with an X. They could be blind, they could be in traction, they could have some mitigating factor which didn’t allow them to cast the vote. In such cases does an “X” count as a signature, and what qualifies as an “X”. Or, perhaps the person had an eyewitness sign the ballot. You could have cases where “unsigned” ballots are counted and other cases where they are not. These are questions left to the ballot counter to decide. The second reason would be if someone, for instance, lived on “Main Street” but the ballot was mailed to “Main Avenue” in a town where there is no “Main Avenue.” The poll worker can ascertain that Main Street is Main Avenue and understand that it is the same address. However in a larger city perhaps there is both a Main Street and a Main Avenue that are on in separate precincts. In that case the worker can determine that the voter has moved and therefore, should not be counted. In other words you can have very similar circumstances but where in one case the vote doesn’t count and in the other case it does. Essentially Coleman is saying that the process was unfair because the Democratic precincts counted votes but the Republican precincts didn’t.

When that’s all you know it sounds like a pretty good argument for Coleman. Why should a vote count in one precinct but not another? He has pulled out 4000 ballots form Republican counties to prove his point. He didn’t pull out an even sampling form both Democratic and Republican counties, both counted and then demonstrate that there was an unduly higher percentage of votes disqualified in Republican counties. He pulled out only the rejected ballots in only the Republican counties. Imagine both you and I both have a bag of M&Ms. You pull out all the green ones out of your bag, and then you select all the red ones out of my bag and then you present just those as “proof” that Mars has favored me in giving me more red ones while it has disfavored you in giving you more green ones. It would of course be a ridiculous argument because you would only be presenting certain M&Ms as your case. In a nutshell this is what Coleman is doing. He has selected only the judgment calls which don’t favor him, and only the judgment calls which actually favor Franken. Obviously, there’s a problem here.

Now of course you might ask, why not just go through all the votes and count all of them? Well that’s what the six months put to now was all about. Every single vote was reviewed, standards were applied and both sides had representatives look at every single ballot. There was a big legal proceeding where they determined which votes should and shouldn’t be counted. The review board looked at literally thousands of ballots and heard 145 different witnesses. After all was said and done, out of millions of votes cast, there was a relatively tiny stack of 11,000 votes which were not counted because they were deemed to be not legally cast. Now Coleman has sorted through all of them and pulled out only those which were cast in Republican counties (no one knows who the votes were actually for) and says, “We need to count these.” The 7,000 cast in Democratic counties he leaves in the pile and says that those shouldn’t count. This is Coleman’s version of an even standard, applying a standard to Coleman that is more permissible than the one applied to Franken.

The other part of this is that it’s possible (though not likely) that there was more judgment calls that favored Franken than Coleman or even more likely to favor Franken than Coleman. One poll worker might be a little stricter than the next and so it’s possible, though again, not likely. The Coleman spin that the Republicans followed the rules while the Democrats didn’t is completely unqualified. Even if that’s the case Coleman would have to make the legal case, with corroborating evidence, that it was systematic, meaning that there was an official policy in place that made it inevitable for the Democratic counties to allow for looser standards. This is very difficult, if not impossible to do because every single worker was shown the exact same video prior to the election. In other words, every single worker got the exact same instructions. Secondly, the chief election official is the governor, who happens to be a Republican. In essence we’d have to accept that there was second, secret set of instructions issued in Democratic counties. This would imply some sort of large and complex conspiracy, organized by who—Al Franken?

Essentially the reason that Coleman doesn’t have a chance of winning is that he doesn’t have a case. There’s a reason both the election board and a lower court ruling have gone in Franken’s favor, and without much doubt as to what the outcome would be. Legally speaking, there’s no question. The only question is when will Coleman let it go and let Minnesota have their second Senator? In addition to this blog entry below there are some bullets of some of the various comments I’ve read on conservative blogs and the response to the arguments.

  • If the courts decide that a heavily Democrat election machine can count Republican districts using one criteria, and Democratic districts using a different criteria, then what little hope is left for this country disappears. Well, first, it’s probably news to most of Minnesota that they have a “Democratic Election Machine” especially Republican governor Tim Pawlenty. Second, and more importantly, the ruling would be the exact opposite, that there was no evidence of different standards being applied in different counties.
  • If you can litigate the election for president, what’s the big deal about senator? Al Gore changed the world in 2000, and not in a good way. Ever wonder why it’s called Bush v. Gore and not Gore v. Bush? For the same reason it’s Coleman v. Franken. In both cases the litigator was the Republican.
  • We lost by magical ballots found in back seats of cars, or magical recounts that always went in the democrats favor. There was nothing magical about any of it. Ballots were known to be misplaced. Ballots need to be transferred from the precinct to another place. Should those legally cast ballots not be counted because they were left, for short period of time, not be counted. In other words, should those voters be disenfranchised because of something that occurred after they voted?
  • For this to give the democrats a 60 vote majority and uncontested rule means that 60 minds of one party have to be thinking the same way to be reality. Does this indicate that the political parties put their party ahead of the best interests of our nation? When politicians become this self centered, a democracy cannot exist. While the verbiage makes the argument confusing, it appears that the person is arguing that if these elected officials vote the way they were elected to vote it’s being self-centered and is undemocratic. Anyone else see the problem with this?
  • The Dems have the “All votes must be counted… until we’re ahead” thing down, and the MSM goes right along like the trained lapdogs they are. Actually Franken never changed positions at all, his position has always been count every legal vote. Coleman was saying, don’t count legally cast votes, and now he is literally arguing that illegal votes should be counted. Franken’s position relative to Coleman may have changed, but only because Coleman has changed. If I stand on your right and then walk to your left, our relative positions might change, but you haven’t moved. That’s precisely what has occurred here.
  • I hope Coleman fights all the way to SCOTUS if necessary, and maybe they will admonish the way this election was railroaded. If SCOTUS can make a precedent here, maybe it could actually STOP the Democrats from stealing election like this one. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony? The party that is always prattling on about state’s rights and the 10th amendment appealing to the Supreme Court to overturn a matter of what is without question, a matter for the state court to decide?
  • Coleman had originally won when Franken and Democrats called for a recount and mysteriously Franken now wins!!! People, take your blinders off—no equality here, just politicians making biased decisions. Our country should be ashamed. Actually Coleman never “won.” He was ahead, in a matter of speaking, on election night. However Franken didn’t get any more votes cast for him after that. After the constitutionally required (not requested by the Democrats) hand recount was completed, Franken was the declared the winner by the election board. He is the only person who has actually been declared a winner by the election board, and there’s nothing “mysterious” about it.
  • Hold the election again, Franken would lose in a landslide. There’s been a number of conservatives that have been throwing out this whole “re-vote” idea. First, in order to do such a thing would require the single most significant act of judicial activism in the history of the country. Second, it’s doubtful that Coleman would win a run-off anyway. For starters even half the people who voted for him are fed up with him as shown by the fact that 2/3 of Minnesota voters want him to let it go (meaning half of Coleman voters are telling him to quit). Second, in the initial election there was a third party, the Independence Party, represented by Dean Barkley, who received about 15 percent of the vote. Polling prior to the election showed that he was taking about twice as many votes from Franken as he was from Coleman. In a two party run-off, even if the state wasn’t already pissed off at Coleman it’s not likely he would win.





  1. Excellent article, thanks for the homework. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Jeff — June 1, 2009 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Jeff!

      Comment by kelly — June 1, 2009 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

  2. Well … thanks for making me understand the nitty-gritty of this comic controversy better. I hear/understand both candidates are Jewish and strongly pro-Israel and no doubt will/would be tools for the AIPAC once finally seated either side in the Senate. AIPAC and the Zionists are and have been of course entirely in control of the US foreign (Mideast in particular) policy for six decades. Coleman once was a Democrat then switched to GOP to be with Bush … as Jewish Senator from PA, Arlen Specter just did in reverse fashion just a couple weeks ago. What’s up with that? Are our Jewish friends once again, as I suspect here, silently manipulating the US duopoly balance of power and with it the upcoming legislative business under the new Democratic administration? Anyone?

    Comment by Ed — June 1, 2009 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

  3. Bullet point lie: # “We lost by magical ballots found in back seats of cars, or magical recounts that always went in the democrats favor.”

    First of all, there were no “ballots found in trunks.” That was a lie made up by one of the Coleman att’y and later repeated by Gov. Tim. Both have recanted this story and still the lie persists. The other lie is that “all the decisions went in Franken’s favor” or more to the rethugs liking “all the ‘found’ votes were for Franken.” The answer to this is two part. When the preliminary election night results were verified, it was found that over 100 votes were not tallied in St. Louis county and another 166 were not tallied in Maplewood (Ramsey county) because of machine errors. Counting these votes properly and other counties’ adjustments cut into Coleman’s apparent and fleeting lead. There is nothing unusual about these post election night adjustments, in fact that is why, for the sake of accuracy we have the counties verify their precincts’ results in the weeks after the election. In Coleman’s last senate campaign, the swing from election night was nearly 10,000 votes. Only that change in tallies did not change the certified victor.

    The only verified ‘lost’ ballots were the 133 gone missing on election night from the dinkytown precinct of the U of M campus in Mpls. At that polling place, there was an over ambitious Coleman partisan who was turning away students armed with their utility bills attempting to legally register on election day as per MN election law. After many hundreds had been turned away, county officials made the election judge follow the law. Who knows how many of those students failed to come back to cast their ballots. The suspected culprit for that missing ballot envelope from that precinct has to be lodged against the Coleman camp. Who else would benefit? Which party had partisans in the precincts challenging voters’ registrations and intimidating those in line with false threats of police arresting those with warrants and unpaid parking tickets? The party of disenfranchisement, the GOP which hypocritically claims to be the johnny come lately champion of the disenfranchised and the sham defenders of “equal protection.”

    During the recount, BOTH candidates picked up votes, but Franken picked up much more. Kind of makes one suspicious that the republican leaning counties were actually suppressing the votes in the democratic leaning precincts as per usual whenever rethugs have the power.

    We had such an open and thorough recount here in this state, there is every reason to have confidence in the results. You could monitor the recount live or look at archived streams from the recount, even to this day on theUptake. There was nothing underhanded. 98% of the determinations of ‘voter intent’ as per MN election law were unanimous decisions of the tri-partisan canvassing board. The accusations that the election was stolen by Richie (or Soros or ACORN or Franken) are belied both by the facts and Coleman’s own att’y who couldn’t have been more adamant when asked yesterday by the MN supremes “Absolutely not. There was no voter fraud, there was no election fraud in here MN.”

    Comment by jim farrell — June 2, 2009 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks Jim!

    Comment by kelly — June 2, 2009 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

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