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...
Here's a look at a handful of some of those challenged ballots from Minnesota Public Radio, which has been posting some of them, and allowing readers to decide which way they should be adjudicated in a readers' poll.
MPR also asked readers whether they thought "these ballots make the case for electronic voting?" We're happy to note that, almost to a person, the response from readers was akin to: "Are you frickin' kidding us?! Of course not!!!"
Naturally, The BRAD BLOG heartily concurs with those smart readers, and by way of emphasis points you to these disputed ballots from the still-undecided U.S. Senate race in Georgia, which will have a run-off on December 2nd:
...Oh, wait, there are no such ballots posted for transparent debate by the public or anybody else, because none exist. They use 100% invisible, unverifiable, reviewable-by-no-one, faith-based electronic "ballots" cast on touch-screen Diebold machines across the entire state. So nobody is able to determine if even one of them was recorded accurately as per any voter's intent.
That unfortunate fact has once again re-opened still more debate about the 2002 U.S. Senate race there, where Saxby Chambliss was reported by Diebold to have defeated incumbent Sen. Max Cleland, despite pre-election polls showing he should have lost, and despite the company having installed uncertified software patches, secretly, just days before the election. Unlike this year's MN race, the GA race in 2002, as well as the still-undecided 2008 race, will likely never be resolved to the public's satisfaction.
But back to MN, where every citizen can watch how things are going, and can ultimately have confidence one way or another in the results. Here's how the Minnesota Independent rounded up Day 3 of counting...
Ballots that failed to satisfy Coleman’s crew today numbered 404, for a three-day total of 778. Franken’s forces found 387 ballots questionable, for a grand total (so far) of 747.
That makes a combined total of 1,525 challenged ballots with only 60 percent of ballots recounted statewide — already surpassing the 1,500 mark which Secretary of State Mark Ritchie predicted only yesterday would be the number of challenged ballots from the entire recount that the State Canvassing Board would have to review. It’s a number that represents an arms race of ballot-attrition that both Coleman's and Franken’s camps condemned today — even as their campaigns ramped up the rejections.
It’s also a number that already dwarves by a factor of 13 the dwindling gap between Franken and Coleman, which now stands at 115. Unless the margin takes a giant leap over the remainder of the recount, the Canvassing Board looks to be the decider in Minnesota’s senate-election drama.
On Friday the Franken campaign claimed its gap with Coleman stood at fewer than 100 votes, counting election officials’ initial decisions on ballots that were later challenged.