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By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2009 3:43pm PT  

In what TPM's Eric Kleefeld describes as "a truly brutal moment, one that could undermine the credibility of Norm Coleman's whole case," the Republican fomer Senator's political director was called to testify about doctored evidence, as revealed by Al Franken's attorneys last week, which they'd submitted in their U.S. Senate election contest against the apparent-winner in Minnesota.

By the end of the day today, the first official day of the trial, the 3-judge panel threw out the tainted evidence --- photocopies of rejected absentee ballots where the Coleman camp had either removed written comments from election officials as to why they were rejected, or left in text added by the campaign itself --- and allowed Coleman's team to subpoena and then re-submit the actual ballot envelopes.

Pretty nice of them, considering they could have fined Coleman and/or struck the claim entirely, as Kleefeld notes in his coverage this afternoon.

As long promised, The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system 2008, fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...
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And other late updates from the ongoing U.S. Senate race in Minnesota...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2009 3:10pm PT  

From TPM:

At a pre-trial hearing in the Minnesota election lawsuit just now, Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton made a striking accusation: That the Coleman campaign has been doctoring evidence.

As an example, Hamilton showed two photocopies of a rejected absentee ballot envelope, one of which he said was the unaltered original, and the other taken from Coleman's legal filings in his attempts to get more of the rejected ballots opened. The Coleman copy was missing the section in which a local election official explained why it was rejected.

We are without words. Coleman's attorney "speculated that there may have been a photocopying problem." Sparse details in the rest of the TPM piece on this, but we'll see if we can learn anything further.

TPM's Eric Kleefeld also reports, in related articles, that former Sen. Norm Coleman's attorney was "openly heckled" by one of the judges on the three-judge panel --- this one, a Republican appointee.

And, in other news from Minnesota's U.S. Senate race election contest, apparent-winner Al Franken's bid to have the entire case dismissed was denied yesterday, while Coleman's hopes of receiving permission from the three-judge panel to inspect all ballots and voter rolls (in their search for votes, and hopes of delaying the formal beginning of the trial next Monday) was similarly denied.

Also, Coleman may be getting used to the fact that it looks like he's not going back to D.C.. He's accepted a "temporary" job as "a strategic adviser to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC)."

By the way, Franken seems constantly referred to as "comedian Al Franken" in mainstream news reports. Setting aside that he was most-frequently a radio talk show host for years, in addition to the author of several books, we can't recall any other candidate for office so consistently being referred to by their former occupation. Not that there's a bias in the corporate media in this matter or anything, just ask strategic adviser Norm Coleman.

UPDATE 1/26/09: The court tosses Coleman's "doctored evidence" on the first official day of the trial. Details now here...

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The Democratic Senate Majority Leader Gets it Wrong Yet Again...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2009 6:37pm PT  

Can still-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid do anything right? It wasn't enough that he blew two years of his mandate, since the Democrats took over Congress in 2006, with his usual pathetic dithering. It's not enough that following the 2008 election he rallied his fellow Democrats in the Senate to announce they'd not allow the seating of anybody chosen by beleaguered IL Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the seat of Barack Obama, only to fold pathetically (and correctly) to allow the seating of Gov. Blagojevich's choice of Roland Burris to fill the seat of Barack Obama.

Now, in his second prominent act as Majority Leader since the election, as AP reports tonight, he's considering going ahead with the seating of MN's Al Franken, despite the fact that Franken's opponent, former Sen. Norm Coleman, is allowed, by state law, to challenge the results of the election --- which found that he lost by 225 votes --- in a court of law before the election is certified by the state's SoS and Governor.

Can Harry Reid do nothing right? According to AP tonight...

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

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TPM: Lawsuit 'throws everything at the wall to see what sticks'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2009 3:42pm PT  

On Monday, we reported on former Senator Norm Coleman's right to challenge the election results in Minnesota which found Al Franken the winner by 225 votes before Franken is officially seated by the Senate.

That is, of course, the appropriate way to allow for election challengers to have their day in court, without nearly-insurmountable prejudice being stacked against them by having their opponent already seated. Incredibly enough, that's not the way most states do it, as most send officially certified results to Congress --- effectively, and Constitutionally, according to judicial precedent, handing jurisdiction of the seating of the member to a partisan Congress, robbing voters and local courts of having the final say --- before legal election contests are fully settled.

On Tuesday, Coleman filed his expected election contest in state court, which Franken's attorneys memorably described as "the same thin gruel, warmed-over leftovers ... that they have been serving the last few weeks."

We've been on the road since the complaint was filed, and haven't had time to review the 204-page suit [PDF] ourselves, but thankfully, TPM's Eric Kleefeld has done so, and reports it as "a marvelous thing"...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2009 12:30pm PT  

...For Coleman.

Imagine the round-the-clock phony "outrage" from the Public-air Propagandists (Fund, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.) you'd be hearing about "felons voting in the MN Senate race!" had the felon voted for Franken. Such as it is, however, he voted for Coleman, so it doesn't actually "matter".

But now that we're here, can we finally do away with these stupid restrictions on felons voting? Especially if they're out of jail, as this one was. He was on supervised release, after being convicted and imprisoned in 2004, when he was 20, for having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl.

On Election Day, he had left a voice message for his supervisory agent that he was going out to vote, only to come home later to find out from the agent that he had broken the law. He has since pleaded guilty to illegally voting.

"I was just excited that the presidential election was coming up and I would be able to vote," he said. "I had never voted in my life. ... I really wasn't aware that I couldn't vote."

Why should felons --- often more directly affected than most by government laws, good ones or bad ones --- be disallowed from having a voice in the government that makes those laws? Particularly after they've served their time in jail?

I realize that may not be a "politically correct" point of view in many quarters. But I don't care. If you're out of jail, of voting age, able to participate in society, and are bound to the laws of that society, you ought to be able to excercise your voice in that society by being able to cast a vote in a democratically-held election. Period.

I realize that felons, even after release, may have other rights taken from them, but voting doesn't seem as if it should be one of them. If you have an argument to the contrary, of course, I'd certainly be interested in hearing what it is

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By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2009 10:34am PT  

Said Norm Coleman, as he announced his election contest:

"Democracy is not a machine. Sometimes it's messy and inconvenient, and reaching the best conclusion is never quick because speed is not the first objective, fairness is."

He also added, as if he was serious, "We are filing this contest to make absolutely sure every valid vote was counted."

The sore-loser Coleman, who refuses to move on, was explaining his tin-foil hat conspiracy theories of a stolen election to reporters and cry-baby supporters, as he made the sour-grapes comments which threaten democracy, as quoted above.

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Excellent provision in MN law requires election challenges settled before U.S. Congress is given jurisdiction over Senate seat
PLUS: Some free advice for Coleman's election contest court challenge...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2009 2:28pm PT  

-- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

The state canvassing board in Minnesota has now certified Al Franken (D) as the winner over incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in the race for the U.S. Senate. Barring a successful legal challenge, which has now been filed by Coleman, Franken will have won the seat by an astoundingly close 225 votes, out of some 2.9 million cast.

But there's still a chance, albeit a slim one, for Coleman to reverse his fate. A very good provision in MN's law --- not found in most other states --- may delay Franken's seating, meaning he will not be sworn in with rest of Congress at the beginning of the new session slated to start tomorrow. Ultimately, however, the provisions should ensure that whoever is eventually sworn in to serve as the state's Senator will not be forced to serve under a cloud.

The voters of MN deserve that much, no matter how long it takes, and thankfully, like its hand-count laws, the state's provision requiring the completion of legal challenges before final certification is sent to Congress by the Sec. of State, is a model for the nation.

Would that all of the other states in the union had such a provision...

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

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It's (almost) all over, but for 1,600 (uncounted) ballots and one (likely) court case in MN's U.S. Senate seat...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2008 4:08pm PT  

One last update before the two Jews running for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota stop to celebrate Christmas.

It's almost all over but the court case, and even that, if it happens, doesn't seem to have much left to stand on. In summary then, here's where we now are in the extraordinarily close U.S. Senate hand-count in MN...

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

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MN Supremes: Count the Incorrectly Rejected Absentee Ballots
UPDATED 12/19/08: Franken Currently Leads Count by 251...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2008 9:41pm PT  

[UPDATED at end of article with today's (Friday's) latest numbers.]

As thousands of challenged ballots from both Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) are being decided by the bi-partisan state canvassing board in the U.S. Senate race in MN, AP says it's currently a 2 vote race, out of 2.9 million ballots cast, in favor of Franken.

That said, as all of the challenged ballots are finally counted over the next several days (and weeks), the lead could go back and forth a bit each night. The Star-Tribune, which puts today's margin at 5 votes in favor of Coleman, currently projects that Franken will ultimately win by 89 votes...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2008 11:43am PT  

These are some of the folks whose votes that democracy-hating Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) is going to the state Supreme Court to keep from being counted in the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota...


The video, produced by challenger Al Franken's campaign, was described by the Coleman camp as "a new low." As Republicanists tend to project just about everything they do on others, we'd suggest that there may be "a new low" here, but in this case, it ain't coming from the Franken camp.

As we reported on Friday, the state canvassing board --- made up of Republicans (two are MN Supreme Court judges), Democrats, and Independents --- ruled unanimously in favor of counting the 1,600 or so absentee ballots which were improperly rejected by election officials and not counted originally in the state's razor-close U.S. Senate race.

Hopefully those ballots now will be counted, unless Coleman has his way in the Supreme Court where he hopes to get an order to stop the counting of legal ballots cast by folks like those seen in the video above. Nice.

CORRECTION: The original version of this article referred to 16,000 rather than 1,600 improperly rejected absentee ballots. The BRAD BLOG regrets the error.

As long promised, The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system 2008, fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...
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Two Important Decisions by the State Canvassing Board Go His Way...
LATE UPDATE: Coleman Camp 'Desperate,' Headed to Court for FL 2000-style Attempt to Stop Ballot Counting, Says Franken Camp
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2008 4:35pm PT  

[Ed Note: Now updated at bottom, with Coleman's attempts to have the state Supreme Court stop the counting, ala Bush/GOP's FL 2000 playbook.]

We've been on the road for several weeks, and haven't been able to report on the day-to-day details of the hand count of the razor-thin U.S. Senate race in Minnesota between incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D). Happily, the mainstream coverage of the counting has been pretty good (surprisingly so), so we haven't felt the need to jump in to fill in the untold stories.

But today is an important one, and has resulted in two very key wins today at the State Canvassing Board for Franken, who has recently claimed that he's up by just 4 votes in the race, presuming that the thousands of challenged ballots (by both sides) are decided by the board the way his team believes they will be.

As of this afternoon, things are looking good --- very good --- for Franken...

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

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Missing Ballots, Uncounted Absentees and the GOP PR Battle That May Trump Both...
By Brad Friedman on 11/25/2008 10:13am PT  

UPDATE at end of article.

Math/statistics/poll-wiz Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com predicts the race between incumbent MN Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) could result in a 27 vote win for Franken. That's right, just 27 votes.

With that in mind, every single vote matters, so it's of note that the Franken campaign is now wondering about some missing ballots in a number of counties. From Public Record's coverage last night:

According to the secretary of state's website, 1,074 people in Clay County voted on Election Day but only 1,069 ballots were produced by the county for the recount. In St. Louis County, 1,649 people voted on Election Day but the county turned over 1,646 ballots for the recount. And in Washington County, 1,464 voted on Election Day but 1,449 ballots were turned over for the recount. The shortfall can easily shift the election to Franken or Coleman's favor because the race between the candidates is so close.

That in mind, we'll take the opportunity to remind both parties in the recount of our earlier suggestion that they make public records requests (if they haven't already) for the invoices from printers of all of the original ballots, and then request that all ballots --- including unvoted ballots --- be counted as part of the final reconciliation of ballots. The number of voted, spoiled, and unvoted ballots should be exactly equal to the number of ballots shown as printed originally on those invoices. If not, there's a problem.

But while ballots have now turned up "missing," and absentees have been tossed from the hand count, the GOP seems to be preparing for a FL 2000 PR gambit to "win" at all costs...

We've got a few more notes/thoughts on a couple of related ballot issues that have bubbled up over the last few days as we've been driving across the country. Given the closeness of this race, these issues could ultimately end up deciding it one way or another, even as the GOP seems to be preparing a FL 2000 PR gambit to "win" at all costs, no matter the final outcome of the hand-count...

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

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Ballot Challenges Being Made on Basis that Voting for the Republican Presidential Nominee Must Be Indication of 'Voter Intent' for Republican Senate Candidate...
By Brad Friedman on 11/24/2008 10:02am PT  

I wrote over the weekend of how the numbers of challenged ballots, by both the Franken and Coleman campaigns in Minnesota's U.S. Senate hand count, have been ballooning as the count proceeds. In some cases, there are good reasons to challenge ballots on the basis of whether the voter's intent is clear or not.

And then, there's the Coleman campaign's attempts to challenge ballots simply because the voter had voted for John McCain, and thus, as they argue, a vote for Al Franken, or for no Senate candidate at all must have been a mistake, and the ballot should be counted instead for Norm Coleman.

No, seriously, this is what they are arguing. Here's The Uptake's video report:

(Note: TheUptake.org has been featuring regular daily LIVE VIDEO coverage of the counting at a number of locations, in addition to their edited video features posted at their RecordTheVote.com site. Thank you, Uptake! I've been on the road, and off the grid almost every day for the last few --- and will be again for the next several --- so if you guys see any vids over there that folks ought to know about, please leave the links in comments!)

As long promised, The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system 2008, fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...
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By John Gideon on 11/23/2008 4:37pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

The Minnesota Senatorial race is still the source of most of the news. The Minneapolis-St Paul Star-Tribune seems to have some of the best coverage of the recount. The link in the article below has not changed over the past few days but the story is constantly updated and changes as the news changes.

One of the counties that had problems on election day, readers will recall, was Kenton Co. Kentucky. You may remember that many of the county’s Hart Intercivic eSlate machines were not properly recording straight-party votes and they were taken out of service. The machines are sold, maintained and programmed by Harp Enterprises.

During an investigation of the Kenton Co problem the president of Harp told investigators that election officials in nearly 100 Kentucky counties failed to do any pre-election testing. If officials in Kenton Co had done the testing they should have found the problem that affected their machines. Of course, Harp has thrown the counties under the bus to some extent. It should have been their duty to warn the state that the testing was not happening. It is also important to note that Harp programs the machines in many of those counties so they are deflecting the blame to some extent...

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

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Unlike GA's Still-Undecided Senate Race, At Least the Public Has Something on Which to Determine the Results in MN...
By Brad Friedman on 11/22/2008 12:05pm PT  

As of the end of Day 3 of hand counting paper ballots in the MN U.S. Senate race between Democratic challenger Al Franken and incumbent Republican Norm Coleman, the total number of challenged ballots by both camps has now ballooned to more than 1500, even as the official gap of ballots that have now been tallied (versus the challenged ballots that will be adjudicated later by the state Canvassing Board) shrank slightly to 115. Franken's camp, however, now puts that number at less 100, based on their calculations of how election officials initially judged a number of those challenged ballots.

After Day 2 on Thursday night, when the gap had stood at just 129 votes , we noted the quickly growing number of challenged ballots by each party, which would likely end up determining the final results of the election. The numbers of those challenged ballots has now increased exponentially, with just over 60% now counted out of 2.9 million originally cast.

Unlike Georgia, where another U.S. Senate race from November 4th is still undecided, at least there are ballots to be challenged...

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

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