Margin Between Two Shrinks to 129 Votes as Number of Challenged Ballots Grows
Official GOP Website Continues Baseless Claims of 'Stolen' Election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2008, 7:06pm PT  

With just over 40% of the ballots in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, the gap has now shrunk to just 129 votes at the end of the second day of counting.

According to tonight's update of the MN Secretary of State's "recount" webpage, Coleman has so far lost a total of 212 votes and Franken has lost 126 during the counting. The net gain is 86 votes for Franken out of the original 215 vote advantage certified by the state for Coleman before counting began yesterday.

The original numbers were based on the tabulations reported by the state's faulty ES&S and Diebold optical-scanners. But today's numbers may be equally misleading, for the moment, as there are some 360 ballots so far challenged by Coleman, and 374 by Franken, which will be judged later by the canvassing board. Those numbers are not included in today's totals.

Last night, after the first day's counting with just over 15 percent of the ballots manually inspected across the state, Franken had a net gain of 43 votes. Today, with slightly over 40 percent counted, Franken's net gain has exactly doubled that to 86 votes...

Screenshot from tonight's MN SoS "recount" page:

In summary:

AS OF DAY 1
Coleman lost 70
Franken lost 27
Net gain: +43 for Franken
Gap (as based on original, machine-tallied results): 172 for Coleman

AS OF DAY 2
Coleman Lost 212
Franken Lost 126
Net gain: +86 Franken
Gap (as based on original, machine-tallied results): 129 for Coleman

County-by-county & precinct-by-precinct results are available here.

GOP Shame...

Incredibly, the Republican National Senatorial Committee is still updating their shameful conspiracy theory website, which has claimed, since it was set up a week or so ago, that Franken and the Democrats are "stealing" the election. That, even though they offer no evidence for such claims, or evidence that embarrassingly turns out to be plain wrong (but brings no subsequent retraction or correction).

Remember, this is an official Republican Party website making these claims!

By way of a few of the latest examples, they post an item from someplace called The Skepticians by James Richardson which argues (without evidence):

[Franken's] campaign is determined to win steal Minnesota’s senate seat by any means necessary

And this from the pathetic and shameless --- and also evidence-free --- tin-foil hatter, John Hinderaker of PowerLine, who avers:

The real problem in our elections, of course, is not the tiny handful of ballots that might be rejected incorrectly, it is the much larger number that are cast illegally. This year, around 25 percent of all the ballots cast in Hennepin County, where Minneapolis is located, were by voters who registered at the polls. No one will ever know how many of those votes were illegally cast by illegal aliens, felons, non-Minnesota residents, or people who also voted in other precincts or other states–both of which are absurdly easy to do. No doubt, Al Franken benefited from thousands of illegally cast votes. But there is no way to connect a particular ballot with a specific illegal voter, so it is hard to see how these illegalities can ever be remedied. Many people fear that Al Franken will steal the election in the recount process, but I think it’s much more likely that he stole it on November 4.

And it again bears repeating: This is an official blog site of the Republican National Party!

UPDATE: Given how close this race could end up being if these same numbers hold up, we suspect whichever party that turns out to be the loser of the hand count may want to revisit the advice we offered a week or so ago on what is needed to try to ensure an accurate reconcialition of the final numbers.

For one, we've recommended public records requests for the invoices of printed ballots to determine how many were actually printed. Then, we'd strongly recommend a full count of unvoted ballots. The total number of voted, spoiled and unvoted ballots should be exactly the same as the number originally printed, as seen on those invoices. If not, someone has some 'splainin' to do.

We'd also strongly recommend, among other things, an immediate court order to lock-down the op-scan memory cards and hard drives for 22 months, as per the federal statute requiring all such materials from elections be retained for that full period. Unfortunately, memory cards and the like are routinely erased by election officials, incredibly enough. They shouldn't be. For reasons I've explained previously.

More such advice here, good for any and all parties who wish to try and ensure the most accurate count possible.

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