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Just 400 previously rejected absentee ballots to be reviewed for possible counting
Finding seen likely to favor Franken; Coleman Attorneys vow to appeal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2009 5:56pm PT  

Just in from St. Paul, the 3-judge panel in MN's U.S. Senate Election Contest have returned to issue a ruling...

In a potentially decisive ruling, a panel of three judges today ordered up to 400 new absentee ballots opened and counted, far fewer than Republican Norm Coleman had sought in his effort to overcome a lead held by DFLer Al Franken.

The ballots appear to include some that Franken had identified as wrongly rejected as well as ballots that Coleman wanted opened in his quest to overcome a 225-vote lead that Franken gained after a recount.

• The court's ruling is posted in full here [PDF]

Al Franken's attorney Marc Elias says: "We are pleased...Obviously, the math is going to be very difficult for former Sen. Coleman and his lawyers at this point."

Former Sen. Norm Coleman's attorney Ben Ginsberg admits: "It is pretty much of a longshot with that few ballots being put in play...We are disappointed. But we feel the court is wrong and we will appeal." During a teleconference this afternoon he strongly hinted they plan to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

Earlier this week, Republican Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (RSCC) threatened "WWIII" if the Democrats seat Franken before they appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary, and even if those appeals take "years."

After reviewing evidence for some 980 previously rejected absentee ballots, as submitted for consideration by both candidates, the judges found that just 400 of them met likely grounds for being opened, counted and added to the final results, though only once they are able to review the actual ballots themselves will they know for certain. They rejected Coleman's plea to use lenient standards for determining which ballots should be counted, holding instead to the strict rule of law, and allowing ballots only for possible counting if they were clearly, legally cast, according to very specific state parameters.

The judges review, they took pains to point out, was exceedingly thorough...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Will the shameful former Senator allow himself to be sacrificed as 'Republican Sore Loser for All Time'?...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2009 12:24pm PT  

As we wait for the 3-judge panel in Minnesota to issue their verdict in former Sen. Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate race, in which the Democratic challenger Al Franken was found to be the winner by a bi-partisan state canvassing board, D.C. lawmakers are cranking up the political battle which awaits beyond that decision, which could come any day now, and its predictable appeal to the MN Supreme Court by the loser (who will "probably" be Coleman, according to his own attorney).

Sen. "Big Bad" John Cornyn (R-TX), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Conspiratorial Committee (NRSC), is now threatening "World War III" if the Dems try to seat Franken before a U.S. Supreme Court appeal is completed, or even a new federal suit that could be filed by Coleman in U.S. District Court if he chooses...even if those additional judicial processes could take "years"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Joe Friedberg seems to be throwing in towel, pinning last of hopes on Hail Mary 'Constitutional argument' appeal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2009 12:41pm PT  

According to a transcript of a radio appearance this week by former Senator Norm Coleman's attorney, Joe Friedberg, the Republican will most likely lose his election contest against Al Franken for the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.

Hotline's Jennifer Skalka quotes Friedberg as conceding that Coleman will "probably" lose when the 3-judge panel currently deliberating the case, which both sides rested last week, announce their verdict.

"I think it's probably correct that Franken will still be ahead and probably by a little bit more," Friedberg admitted, after announcing that he was "done" with the case.

The Democratic challenger, and now apparent Senator-elect Franken was certified by the bi-partisan state canvassing board to have received 225 more votes than Coleman, out of some 2.9 million cast, at the end of the painstaking, transparent, post-election hand-count of all of the states paper ballots. During the course of Coleman's election contest, which followed that hand-count, Franken gained another 50 or so votes after it was determined that a number of legally cast absentee ballots were inappropriately rejected by election officials.

The 3-judge election contest panel may reach their verdict at any time. Among their decisions is expected to be a finding on whether another 2000 or so rejected absentee-ballots, submitted for consideration by both Coleman and Franken, were "legally cast" and if their results should be added to the final totals. Even so, statistics mavens --- and results of already-counted absentee ballots --- suggest that Coleman will likely have a difficult time closing the gap against Franken, even if all of those currently-uncounted ballots are counted and added to the totals.

Coleman's lead attorney, Friedberg, would now seem to be admitting that and hanging any last hopes he may have on "a constitutional argument, and it's an argument suitable for the Minnesota Supreme Court, not for the trial court."

Our previous coverage of the Coleman/Franken election contest, is indexed here.

The short transcript, posted by Hotline, from Wednesday's interview with Friedberg on KFAN's Dan Barreiro Show, hosted by fill-in Ron Rosenbaum, follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2009 4:18pm PT  

Imagine, if you will, that the situation had been reversed, and that it had been Norm Coleman who was found to have received more votes than Al Franken for the U.S. Senate seat in MN.

Imagine if Al Franken's campaign, as opposed to Norm Coleman's, had now been found to have disclosed the names and credit card numbers of their donors on their own website, where they also inappropriately stored the unencrypted three-digit security codes of contributor credit cards, violated state law by failing to notify anybody about it, and then lied about it.

Imagine if everything --- actually, if any one of the dozens of improprieties --- that Norm Coleman has pulled since the November election, had been done by Al Franken instead.

Might Sean Hannity be repeating, over and over, something akin to the following for three hours a day on the radio (over our publicly-owned airwaves), and during his hour-long solo Fox "News" freak show, five days a week??...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




As the long slog continues, a legal analysis finds the Republican former Senator's case still 'dead in its tracks'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/9/2009 12:12pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Last Friday, Al Franken's legal team argued a motion for the court to summarily dismiss former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate election contest in Minnesota.

In support of the motion to dismiss, Franken attorney Marc Elias argued that Coleman had filed a "scattershot petition"; that in five weeks Coleman called more than 50 witnesses, placed in evidence thousands of pages of material, yet proved little more than a handful of previously-rejected absentee ballots should be opened and counted.

Moreover, Elias noted that eight of Coleman's original claims had been abandoned, pointed out that the court had previously ruled the parties had a burden of proving, on an individualized basis, that any previously-rejected, uncounted absentee ballots were lawfully cast, and thus, should now be counted.

Elias argued that while Franken was certified by the state canvassing board, at the end of the painstaking post-election hand-count, to have received 225 more votes than Coleman, the Coleman team, he said, had presented individualized evidence with respect to no more than nine (9) absentee ballots. Though, in the case of ballots cast by voters who did not appear to be registered, Elias conceded the Secretary of State had indicated, there may be as many as 100 ballots in which missing registration forms might be found inside the absentee ballot secrecy envelopes.

Elias argued that while trial courts ordinarily prefer to defer a ruling on a motion to dismiss until after both sides present their case, the expeditious nature of the proceedings and exigencies warrant an immediate dismissal, even before his team's own case is concluded...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Oh, and about that ACORN voter fraud...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2009 12:29pm PT  

In the Minnesota Independent's coverage of former Sen. Norm Coleman's latest push for a "do-over" election, they also point to our recent coverage of GOP chair Michael Steele's obnoxious and absurd fund raising email to GOP members:

Actually it’s surprising Republicans would even consider letting Franken off with a simple do-over when they’ve got the goods on him. According to a Monday fund-raising letter from RNC Chair Steele, Franken is “stealing Norm Coleman’s U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.”

Well, that's a good point, isn't it? With Steele, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Republican National Lawyer's Association, and all of their affiliated wingnuts claiming over and over that Franken is "stealing" the election (as we detailed and linked in our report), why aren't the Republicanists calling for criminal charges to be brought against him?

It does seem rather gracious of them to allow Franken to compete in a "do-over" for a U.S. Senate seat which they claim to have evidence of him trying to "steal" in the first place, no?

Are the wingnuts just nice that way? Or are they just full of shit? Hmmm, tough call.

(BTW, with all of those charges by the Republicanists, before the election, of ACORN committing massive "voter fraud," shouldn't Coleman and the Republicanists have brought forward their evidence for that during this important election contest trial, since they seem to have lost by only about 250 votes? Especially in MN, where ACORN helped to register more than 42,000 new voters prior to last year's election? With all of those fraudulent ACORN voters, and with Coleman's team having gone over every single vote cast with a fine-tooth comb, you'd think the GOP could have offered evidence of at least one case of "voter fraud" committed by ACORN in MN, no? Apparently not.)

The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system, tirelessly, fiercely and independently for years, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work, which only you help to fund, with a donation to help us continue the work so few are willing to do. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...



Hysterical fund raising letter from Michael Steele charges MN's 'Democrat' Senator-elect's apparent victory a 'tragic injustice,' 'outrageous power grab'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2009 2:40pm PT  

The "one and only true party of the people" hoping to "rebuild...from the grassroots up," according to an email from its new chairman Michael Steele, seems to be having trouble doing anything differently from the old GOP party. At least if the latest fund raising letter from Steele, charging "liberal Democrat comedian Al Franken" as "stealing Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota," is any indication.

On the same day that former Senator Coleman rested his so-far failed case in his election contest in St. Paul against apparent Senator-elect Al Franken, the new GOP chair sent a missive to supporters, begging for money, using the same old failed tactics of the RNC of old; namely, lying to supporters about facts, offering specious, unsupported allegations of Democrats "stealing" elections (despite all evidence to the contrary), making liberal use of the word "liberal," and referring to Democratic party members as "Democrat" party members.

Steele's shameless email (posted in full at the end of this article) echoes the RNC's so-far failed conspiracy-theory strategy to "win" the Senate seat, as previously used by the Coleman camp, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (RSCC), the Republican National Lawyer's Association (RNLA), and GOP propagandists from Hannity to Rush to the wingnut blogosphere which dutifully repeat all of their tin-foil hattery, and/or supply it to them in the first place...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Franken team moves to strike Norm's claim of 100 'double-counted ballots' following revelation
UPDATE: Coleman fined by judges...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2009 4:36pm PT  

On Day 1 of the Coleman/Franken U.S. Senate election contest in Minnesota, the Coleman team was busted doctoring evidence.

Earlier this week, the Coleman camp was busted having withheld notes from Franken's team, and today, the end of Week 5, "all hell just broke loose in the Minnesota courtroom," according to TPM's Eric Kleefeld, when it was revealed that Coleman's team has also been hiding a witness, as revealed by secret email!

"Al Franken's lawyers [caught] Team Coleman in the act of yet more concealing of evidence --- and they've now made a motion to totally strike the Coleman camp's claims about double-counting of ballots, which the Coleman camp has hoped to use to subtract over 100 votes from Franken's lead."

Add to that what attorney Ernest Canning guest blogged here last week, explaining how Coleman's attorneys need to be sanctioned for having moved to un-count 933 ballots they'd previously signed a stipulation for, agreeing they were legitimately added to the total.

Just imagine what this case would look like by now, had Franken --- or any Democrat, anywhere, anytime --- been busted doing any of those things in regard to an election or an election contest.

On the roll, literally, in Phoenix right now, so please see Kleefeld for the details on the amazing fireworks today in the courtroom...

UPDATE 3/3/09: Coleman fined for the incident. Slap on wrist includes stern warning that case could be dismissed if it happens again, according to the Star-Tribune:

One of the more contentious episodes in the trial so far ended Monday when the judges slapped Coleman with a $7,500 fine for failing to disclose a document from a Republican election judge who claimed votes were double-counted in Minneapolis. But they allowed her testimony to become evidence.

"In the event this sanction fails to deter future conduct on the part of [Coleman's] counsel, the court will not hesitate to impose harsher sanctions, up to and including dismissal [of the case]," the judges wrote.




Sanctions are now warranted against the former Republican Senator, according to the legal analysis of a veteran attorney and political science scholar...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/22/2009 2:05pm PT  

Guest Editorial by Ernest A. Canning

I am a California attorney. After 31 years of practice, I find myself in the enviable position of semi-retirement. As my practice winds down, I have had the luxury to follow the Coleman election challenge closely, both reading court filings and watching a good deal of the proceedings. I consider The BRAD BLOG the most extensive and thorough source of the dangers of E-voting. I felt, however, it would be useful to provide a legal analysis of the present state of the Coleman challenge.

Brad Friedman's described the latest effort by team Coleman to challenge absentee ballots it had previously agreed were properly opened and counted, as a "flip-flop,". While accurate, the term does not begin describe the deep legal dilemma now faced by Norm Coleman's attorneys in the U.S. Senate election contest in Minnesota...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




But there's method, of a sort, to the certifiable madness...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2009 11:50am PT  

Two quick updates to the Coleman/Franken Election Contest/Mini-Series playing out in Minnesota, both via TPM's Eric Kleefeld, since we're on another deadline today...

1) All of a sudden yesterday, the trial began rapidly picking up pace for some reason. A record "nine and a half" officials were "sworn in, direct-examined, cross-examined, re-direct-examined and excused"

2) Coleman may be setting an all-time flip-floppery record, as he has changed positions, yet again, on originally rejected absentee ballots that he agreed should be counted during the post-election hand-count. The counting of those ballots resulted in a 176 net gain for Franken, leading to his final 225 vote lead over Coleman at the end of that hand-count. As Kleefeld, who details the back-story here, describes it: "Coleman was originally against counting them, then for it, then against it, then for it, and now against it, in that order."

While the new position seems nearly insane (both on a legal, and practical level), the method to the madness is becoming clearer and clearer: Coleman, and his top legal hatchet-man/arsonist, "Swiftboat" Ben Ginsberg, are setting up the case for an appeal to higher authorities, to argue that the election was simply too close to call, the results within the "margin of error", beset with "illegally" counted ballots, and otherwise "fatally-flawed", and the election contest trial itself "a legal quagmire". All in hopes of asking somebody, anybody, (SCOTUS please?) for a do-over election.

We discussed that gambit, and its likelihood of success in this previous article. All of Coleman's moves, of late, seem to support that same general legal strategy.

Amusingly and ironically enough, it was Franken who the nutty Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) recently described as "desperate". Go figure.

The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system, tirelessly, fiercely and independently for years, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work, which only you help to fund, with a donation to help us continue the work so few are willing to do. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...



More evidence they may be preparing an appeal strategy to call for a 'do-over' in MN's U.S. Senate Election
UPDATE: 'Swiftboat' Ben Ginsberg declares trial a 'legal quagmire'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/18/2009 11:27am PT  

[Updated at end of article.]

While God may have chosen him, if not the voters of Minnesota, evidence is growing that former Sen. Norm Coleman may be preparing for a "do-over" gambit. We'd offered speculation on this front a week or two ago, and yesterday, following another slog of a day at the U.S. Senate Election Contest court in St. Paul, the Republican's top legal spokes, Ben Ginsberg, described the election as "fatally-flawed" in his post-trial presser. The freshly floated phrase has re-ignited speculation about Coleman's longer-term legal strategy...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Republican National Lawyers Association Says Goodbye to Any Credibility They May Have Once Had...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2009 6:05am PT  

If the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) ever had any actual legitimacy, self-respect, or credibility as a professional organization --- and I think they used to have all three --- they have now, officially, thrown any last pretense of any of that down the drain, and have come out of the closet as hard-right, conspiracy theory-based, propagandist loons.

On the day that presumptive Senator-elect Al Franken (D) won a huge victory during former Senator Norm Coleman's (R) election contest in Minnesota, the RNLA issued an hysterical email with the subject line: "Al Franken Loses Legal Battle, He Is Very Desperate."

See below for the embarrassing email that the once-respectable-now-whack-job RNLA sent out via their equally looney-toons "media arm" partners at HumanEvents.com this past week, in hopes of raising funds to "Stop Al Franken From Stealing The Election"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Late Friday ruling limits 'Ballot Universe' of those still under consideration for counting, to only those 'legally cast under relevant law'
Franken team pleased that at least 13 of 19 categories of previously rejected absentee ballots will not be counted...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2009 3:56pm PT  

[Updated several times at bottom of article.]

A late Friday finding from the 3-judge panel presiding over the Coleman/Franken U.S. Senate election contest in Minnesota has limited the number of previously rejected absentee ballots that may be reviewed for possible counting.

The 17-page order [PDF], issued late today, will likely come as a blow to former Senator Norm Coleman's (R) chances of overtaking presumptive Senator-elect Al Franken's (D) current lead of some 250 votes out of approximately 2.9 million ballots cast last November...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




'Not a whiff of fraud here,' says Repub MN Senate contest attorney...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2009 1:21pm PT  

Might we suggest these Republicans get their lies straight before going public?

From Republican State Representative Tom Emmer's press release today, on the defeat of his restrictive Photo ID voting bill in the MN legislature this morning:

"The U.S. Senate recount has given us evidence of twenty-five precincts in Minnesota where more votes were cast than the rolls had registered voters," said Emmer. "How does a situation like that not cry out for a safeguard that will return confidence in our election process to Minnesota voters?"

Just now, from attorney James Langdon, arguing on behalf of former Republican Senator Norm Coleman, in the U.S. Senate election contest in MN:

"There hasn't been a whiff here, of any fraud."

But why quibble when we might be able to disenfranchise (Democratic-leaning) voters in a democracy? By the way, the RNC seems to agree with Langdon, not Emmer:

Not that any of that will stop any Republican anywhere from doing everything they can to keep legal (Democratic-leaning) voters from being able to cast their legal votes through Photo ID restrictions, or anything else they can think of.




Even as the Republican argues to include ballots of voters who forged signatures and ballots they previously rejected
Plus: A bit more to bring you up to date with the latest...
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2009 2:23pm PT  

While Norm Coleman may believe that "God wants [him] to serve," the voters of MN, and a ruling yesterday from the 3-judge panel presiding over his U.S. Senate election contest, still seem to indicate otherwise.

Yes, at it turns out, something actually happened during Coleman's ongoing trial yesterday, and it resulted in still more votes for Al Franken.

That, and other late developments follow...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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