John Thune's (R-SD) Math

The Senate voted by 60 - 39 to limit debate on the health care bill, setting up a vote for final passage tomorrow at 7am ET. Debate continues on the bill this evening.

Source: C-SPAN.org

As part of this continuing debate, the minority (the Republican caucus) was allotted one hour for remarks. As part of these remarks, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) asked that the bloc be divided evenly among several members of the Republican caucus. John Thune (R-SD) received the third segment which can be viewed in its entirety below.

Sen. Thune directed much of his ten minute address to the issue of the deficit. He began by presenting convoluted percentages of non-defense budget spending over the preceding several years. He was attempting to illustrate that the Democrats contributed more to the deficit and that our current deficit is not attributable to President George W. Bush or the Republican party.

He then lifted a blank presentation board and a marker. Next, he began to write numbers, in billions of dollars, relating to the Congressional Budget Office's estimate of the Healthcare bill's cost. The first number represented the CBO's estimated surplus ($132 B), over a ten year period, resulting from the implementation of the Senate's Healthcare bill. The next few lines depict Sen. Thune's interpreted inaccuracies of the CBO's estimate.

John Thune (R, SD) Can't Add

Sen. Thune then adds the 132 billion to his list of erroneous estimates and makes an arithmetic error:

   132 - 200 - 72 - 47 = -177

His numbers don't add up to -177; the correct computation yields -187. We have a US Senator attempting to illustrate why the CBO is wrong and he can't add four numbers of three digits or less together. Simply stunning. But perhaps what's even more stunning is that nobody caught this error; either in the planning stages or during the remaining remarks.

Published on December 23rd at 4:51 PM CT :: 1 Comment

Board Meets, Finalizes Challenges

The Minnesota State Canvassing Board met today, at 9 AM CT, to finalize all challenge resolutions. Each campaign brought forth a series of ballots that were believed to have been inaccurately allocated. At the end of the day, Franken gained 6 votes and Coleman added 2 for a net Franken gain of 4 votes. This addition extends Franken's lead to 50.

The final seven and a half minutes of the of the Canvassing Board's discussion can be viewed below or downloaded (*.wmv, 00:07:41, 87.7 MB):

Shortly after the Canvassing board concluded, Marc Elias, Franken's lead lawyer, conducted a brief press conference. Below is an excerpt followed by the full video:

Marc Elias: And now with everything except for the absentee ballots counted we are leading by 50 votes. We could not be more thrilled with where we stand, in this process. This recount has gone exceptionally well.

...

Marc Elias: At every stage we have gained votes. And we have every reason to believe that will be true of the absentee ballot review as well. As you know we made an offer to accept all thirteen hundred and fifty of them, because we are confident that if all those were counted we would gain even more votes.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wmv, 00:03:56, 45.5 MB)

Tony Trimble then discussed the Coleman campaign's view of the recount proceedings in a lengthier proceeding. An excerpt is available below followed by the video:

Tony Trimble: The Canvassing Board, as we all know, has not taken care of the duplicate voting, the double voting thats occured in Minneapolis. We are faced with an artificial Franken lead, of a, double digits is all. There were a hundred double counted ballots, actually a hundred and ten doubled counted ballots that will wipe out that lead and keep Coleman, justifiably in front. That's where we stand today.

...

Reporter A: If you have that faith in local officials, why are you not accepting their list of the thirteen hundred?

Tony Trimble: We have faith in local officials, they're going do the right thing. But we have brought to their attention, and the Franken campaign's attention, that there is another stack, a small stack ten to twelve thousand that ought to be reviewed. And we have faith that they will produce those, and show those to the Franken folks [so that they can agree].

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wmv, 00:09:51, 113 MB)

Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie then held a Press Conference. The first, probably ten minutes, pertained directly to the recount; the second half focused on some of the legislative responsibilities of the Secretary of State. I only have the first portion in video form, but the second portion is still available, and pretty interesting. The video portion is available below along with an excerpt from part one:

Mark Ritchie: To my knowledge neither of the campaigns even attempted to get agreement from the other campaign to meet this requirement. So as of three o'clock yesterday this agreement made by both campaigns, the local elections officials, and our office was that by three they had to have agreement by both campaigns to add any additional challenges. It is not that complicated of a rule. It is under the order of the SC of MN. Its a very straight forward thing that's fairly easy to read and interpret. If anybody would like to ask for further clarification on whether this rule should be changed they should say that, but that's a different thing than saying the rule does not exist.

Reporter A: So the rules says that after 3 PM you cannot add to pile 5, except by mutual agreement.

Mark Ritchie: Correct.

Part 1 Video: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wmv, 00:10:55, 125 MB) Part 2 Audio: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wav, 00:11:27, 1.06 MB)

The only remaining step, for the Canvassing Board, revolves around acknowledging sum potential 1,350 wrongfully rejected absentee ballots. The board will meet on January 5th and 6th from 2:30 to 5:00 PM CT. During this time, the five member committee will review the challenged absentee ballots before they allocated. It is possible, perhaps even probable that on January 6th the State Canvasing Board will declare that one of the candidates has received the most votes. This is not to be confused with an election certificate. Acknowledging the receiver of the most votes does not imply certification. Once it is known who received the most votes, the loser may request an "election contest" within seven days. If a contest does occur, the winner is officially certified after the resolution of that contest. If there is no contest, the winner is certified seven days later.

Minnesota will not have a second Senator on January 6th, the would-be day of admittance.

Published on December 30th at 11:35 AM CT :: 1 Comment

The Coleman Response

The following conversation occurred last Tuesday, December 23rd, after the State Canvassing Board adjourned, but before the Minnesota Supreme Court convened that afternoon. This pseudo-press conference involved two members of Coleman's legal counsel; Fritz Knaak and Tony Trimble.

Summary: The Coleman campaign believes there are about 20 allocation errors pertaining to the challenged ballots that will directly benefit Coleman's vote count. They believe that the Franken campaign has issues with just a third of that number.

Fritz Knaak: A well, we think that there are any of a number of situations where they failed to count Coleman votes, there in the reconciliation process. I think Tony, maybe if you want to weigh in on that, but a --

Tony Trimble: Sure.

Fritz Knaak: We're quite confident they just missed a few.

Tony Trimble: We provided to the SOS and the Franken campaign today with a list of 20 ballots that were allocated incorrectly. They have quite a task ahead working on the spreadsheet with some sixty six hundred ballots to allocate and so over the weekend it's not to be unexpected that there might be a few clerical mistakes. But we have located 20 clerical mistakes in which votes that should have been allocated to Norn Coleman, err Senator Coleman where instead allocated to the other column meaning Barkley or another candidate. And also a handful that were allocated to Franken and of course if you deduct, redact the Franken vote and put it in the correct vote one which is the Coleman vote that's a two vote gain right there. That's a substantial correction and you'll note that the Franken campaign had a very very tiny list of reconciliation that they submitted today; not even a third of the size of ours. We picked up a goodly number of votes today just on reconciliations, so far.

Reporter B: How many ballots or still in your reconciliation pile?

Tony Trimble: We're still going through that, we submitted 20 today. But there is another dozen or so that were crosschecked and of course both campaigns, this is not done yet, both campaigns are scouring the list, as they should, to make sure that the count, at least the allocation of these challenges rolls was made correctly.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wav, 00:07:28)
Video: TheUpTake.org via Qik.com (00:07:45)

The next quote picks up where the last quote ended.

Summary: The Coleman lawyers seem to have a disagreement regarding the release of some internal information. Tony Trimble starts to answer a question, but is semi-interrupted by Fritz Knaak; Tony Trimble then states that there are two or three challenges that were allocated to Franken that should be allocated to Coleman. Apparently Fritz Knaak did not want this count to be public knowledge. The Coleman campaign still believes they can overcome the StarTribune reported 47 vote discrepancy; the StarTribune is now reprting a 46 vote lead for Franken.

Reporter C: How many are there of the two for one variety?

Tony Trimble: I'd have to go back to the list but it was a --

Fritz Knaak: We can't specify that --

Tony Trimble: it was a, two or three at least.

Fritz Knaak: We're expecting more. Understand that this is an ongoing process and we're, I think we're mostly done but a, at this point the staff is still working through these.

Reporter D: Is it enough to overcome the 47 votes?

Tony Trimble: We sure think so; we were quite pleased with the results from last night's review.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wav, 00:07:28)
Video: TheUpTake.org via Qik.com (00:07:45)

The following quote preceded the two already listed, by about three minutes. No summary required.

Reporter A: Can you win without a favorable decision from the supreme court?

Fritz Knaak: Yes we can.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wav, 00:07:28)
Video: TheUpTake.org via Qik.com (00:07:45)

At this point, on December 23rd, the Coleman campaign apparently thought they could still win by overcoming the current deficit without a favorable Supreme Court ruling. This stance appears to have changed. On December 24th, after the Supreme Court ruled against Coleman's petition, the Coleman campaign released the following statement:

The decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court today virtually guarantees two things in this recount. One: it ensures that there will be an election contest because Minnesotans simply will not support an election as close as this being decided by some votes being counted twice. Two: this ensures that no certificate of election will be issued due to an election contest inevitably being filed, leaving Minnesota without two sitting United States Senators on January 6th.

Source: Norm Coleman for Senate

Thus, one of two things occured; either something caused their internal count to change (which we'll never know, because they don't release that information), or the Coleman campaign never actually thought they could win, without the need for an election contest, based upon the challenged ballot returns.

In either case we'll all find out more tomorrow, when the State Canvassing Board meets again at 9 AM CT to finalize all 6,688 challenge resolutions. I think its fairly safe to say that the Coleman campaign believes they will lose amongst the rougly 1,600 yet to be counted absentee ballots based upon their already announced intent of challenging, what they perceive to be, the outcome of the recount.

Published on December 29th at 11:32 AM CT :: 0 Comments

State of the Minnesota Senate Recount

Just a quick holiday update on the Minnesota Senate Recount. Each of Minnesota's 4130 precincts completed reporting on December 12th, the result follows:

            Recount         Original
Coleman:   1,208,935   -   1,210,995  =  -2,060
Franken:   1,208,747   -   1,210,285  =  -1,538

Current Margin: Coleman +188
Precincts Recounted: 100% (4130 of 4130)

There was an additional 6,688 challenged ballots still left to be decided. On Monday, December 22nd, the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office posted a draft quality spreadsheet containing a proposed resolution for all 6,688 challenges. Drawing from my previous tabulation:

Candidate     Challenges  ->Coleman  ->Franken  ->Other
Coleman (R)     3,404         32       3,125      247
Franken (D)     3,296       2,926        71       299
Both              12          3          5         4
Total           6,688       2,955      3,191      478

Challenge Margin: Franken +236

Now if the precinct's reported recount results are combined with the draft result of the challenge resolutions, the horserace stands as follows:

      Precinct Recount Margin:  Coleman +188
      Challenge Draft Margin: Franken +236
      Current Recount Margin: Franken +48

Franken is not yet the winner however, there are still ballots left to be counted; about 1,600 according to MN SOS Mark Ritchie. According to the StarTribune there are at least 727 wrongfully rejected absentee ballots from 54 of Minnesota's 87 counties. The remaining counties have yet to finalize their count, but each county has until January 2nd to report their totals.

The canvassing board meets next Tuesday, December 30th, to finalize the challenge resolutions. I will hopefully have a live stream of the proceedings and the subsequent press conferences.

Published on December 25th at 7:41 PM CT :: 0 Comments

MN Supreme Court Reaches Decision

The Supreme Court has ruled:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1. The petition of Norm Coleman for relief from the December 19, 2008 decision of the State Canvassing Board rejecting challenges to unmatched original damaged ballots be, and the same is, denied. But our denial of the relief requested does not constitute a binding determination in a subsequent election contest proceeding.

2. Petitioner's motion for a temporary restraining order be, and the same is, denied as moot.

Dated: December 24, 2008

BY THE COURT

Alan C. Page

Associate Justice

MAGNUSON, C.J., and ANDERSON, G. Barry J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this matter.

Source: MNCourts.gov

This appears to be good news for the Franken campaign, but they are likely to remain apprehensive over the following line from the ruling:

But our denial of the relief requested does not constitute a binding determination in a subsequent election contest proceeding.

Source: MNCourts.gov

Unless I am mistaken, which I very well could be (I'm not a legal expert) why couldn't the Coleman campaign just take their petition to an "election contest proceeding?" This ruling appears to be good news for Franken, but I'm not certain the issue is actually resolved.

From a legal standpoint Coleman is helpless, at least until a winner is certified; as an "election contest" implies contesting the result of an election after a winner has been certified. The State Canvassing Board could require that each county double check their count to try and preempt any such election contest, but even then an election contest seems likely.

Published on December 24th at 4:05 PM CT :: 0 Comments

MN Senate Recount Audio

Here's an audio recap of the recount events that took place today. The audio isn't great, but the content is still discernible, despite some obvious background artifacts; the time is presented as HH:MM:SS.

The first recording comes from a pseudo press conference conducted with two members of Coleman's legal counsel, Tony Trimble and Fritz Knaak:

Coleman's Counsel: We see the number as much better from our point of view. We'll know more after we've had this dialogue with the Secretary of State.

Reporter A: What's your internal count at?

Coleman's Counsel: Our internal count is a, something we don't share.

Reporter B: Why is that?

Coleman's Counsel: Because we don't, as a matter of policy; very early on we decided.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wav, 00:07:28)
Video: TheUpTake.org via Qik.com (00:07:45)

There are essentially only two reasons why they don't want to reveal their internal count. The most likely scenario is that their internal numbers actually show that they are trailing; and secondly they simply do not have an internal count. I find the second option very unlikely, basically impossible. The campaign has demonstrated no restraint when it comes to declaring victory. I think if they thought they were winning, we would all know that they thought they were winning. Hence because they are not stammering about their lead, they are in fact, not in the lead.

The next event was the press conference conducted by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie:

Reporter A: Is it almost certain that there is not going to be a winner certified by January 6th, when they're supposed to be sworn in? Is that being taken into consideration?

Sec. Mark Ritchie: Absolutely not a consideration. I have until November 2010, personally. The 5th and 6th [of January] we have scheduled from 2:00 to 5:30 both days [for the canvassing board to meet].

...

Reporter B: Can a winner be certified by January 6th?

Sec. Mark Ritchie: If the stars align...Our top priority is accuracy and transparency. And the timing thing is just not our issue. You know I want to put an underline: we don't care as long as it's accurate and is done in a transparent way.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wav, 00:26:10)
Video: TheUpTake.org via Qik.com (00:09:19)

Finally the MN Supreme Court met to decide, once and for all, whether the case made by the Coleman campaign regarding the supposed inclusion of doubly counted ballots should be reexamined. A decision has not yet been reached, but the Supreme Court is allowed to take as much time as necessary; expect a decision by tomorrow evening:

Supreme Court Justice: Where have you shown to us, that there is, there are [more] votes counted in any given precinct than the number of voters as would be determined under §204C.20.

Source: VoteForAmerica.net (*.wav, 1:04:38)
Video: TPT.org via MNCourts.gov (01:03:47)

I personally find it very likely that the petition, as put forth by the Coleman campaign, will fail; but I am not a great supreme court mind. My verdict is based entirely on my interpretation of the proceedings.

Published on December 23rd at 4:02 PM CT :: 0 Comments

The Canvassing Board Meets

The entire proceeding can be watched live, at TheUpTake.org.

9:25 AM CT: The board is discussing the possibility of going back into the pile of challenges to re-review some questionable ballots. There are apparently 16 ballots that were marked with an X; from these 16 ballots, the board discerned that the X was written in a "different ink," or on a different plane (above or below another mark) on the ballot.

9:31 AM CT: The board is now considering whether to actual "pull" and review those ballots. Apparently it would result in reviewing 40 total ballots due to the comparisons requested; the clerk estimated that the review would take about half an hour.

9:33 AM CT: If they review those 16 ballots, as requested by the Coleman campaign -- which would require 40 total ballots to be reviewed -- the Franken campaign has argued that they also have a select group of ballots they would like to have re-reviewed.

9:35 AM CT: An hour long recess is forthcoming as they sort through the challenges and "pull" the 40 ballots in question. Recess until 10:30 AM CT.

9:47 AM CT: On a side note; Coleman counsel, Fritz Knaak was just semi-complaining about the recess. After the recess, Mr. Knaak preceded to the back of the room to get his get something in his laptop bag. On the way, a member of the audience asked Mr. Knaak if "[he] got paid" for waiting. Mr. Knaak responded by saying, "wait, its what lawyers do." At the same moment in time, Franken counsel, Marc Elias was talking with a group of about four people who were laughing. Bottom line: Knaak is nervous and Elias seems at ease.

In the meantime, let's look at the composition of the Minnesota Supreme Court:

Justices are elected to six-year terms unless a mid-term vacancy occurs, in which case the governor appoints a replacement to finish the term. Justices have a mandatory retirement age of 70.

Source: Wikipedia

Chief Justice Eric J. Magnuson: (Member of the Canvassing Board)

Rise: Appointed by Republican Tim Pawlenty, 2008
Estimated Party Affiliation: Conservative
MNCourts.gov Bio

Justice Alan C. Page:

Rise: Elected, 1993
Estimated Party Affiliation: Liberal
MNCourts.gov Bio

Justice Paul H. Anderson:

Rise: Appointed by Republican Arne Carlson, 1994
Estimated Party Affiliation: Conservative
MNCourts.gov Bio

Justice Helen M. Meyer:

Rise: Appointed by Independent Jesse Ventura, 2002
Estimated Party Affiliation: Independent/Democrat
MNCourts.gov Bio

Justice G. Barry Anderson: (Member of the Canvassing Board)

Rise: Appointed by Republican Tim Pawlenty, 2004
Estimated Party Affiliation: Conservative
MNCourts.gov Bio

Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea:

Rise: Appointed by Republican Tim Pawlenty, 2006
Estimated Party Affiliation: Conservative
MNCourts.gov Bio

Justice Christopher J. Dietzen:

Rise: Appointed by Republican Tim Pawlenty, 2008
Estimated Party Affiliation: Conservative
MNCourts.gov Bio

The two justices who are member of the canvassing board must abstain from participating, from the bench on any item related to the recount. That leaves five judges, two liberals, two conservatives, and an independent to decide on the double balot issue later today at 2 PM CT.

10:32 AM CT: Meeting reconvenes. The Coleman campaign has asked the board to compare their decision on a challenged ballot to that of other challenges.

10:33 AM CT: A motion is required to even begin reconsidering a ballot.

10:39 AM CT: The first two challenged challenges fell without a second motion.

10:45 AM CT: The board has yet to acknowledge a desire to reconsider any of these challenged challenges.

10:52 AM CT: The board still has not seconded a motion to reconsider their decision. A lot of the challenges in question have pertained to unanimous decisions by the board. I'll post the document containing the specific ballots later.

10:57 AM CT: All 40 ballots were reviewed and nothing happened. The board then sarcastically remarked that they would not acknowledge similar challenges from the Franken campaign.

10:59 AM CT: Recess until 9 AM CT on December 30th. They will validate their challenge counts.

The Supreme Court will convene at 2 PM CT to tackle the issue of doubly counted ballots. Check back for live coverage.

Update [8:29 PM CT 4/17/2009]: I updated the bio of Justice Paul H. Anderson to reflect the fact that he was originally appointed to the bench, not elected, as previously stated.

Published on December 23rd at 9:30 AM CT :: 0 Comments

MN Board Resolves 6,688 Challenges

The Minnesota Secretary of State's Office posted a draft quality spreadsheet containing a proposed resolution for all 6,688 challenges. I've tabulated the results into a more readable format below:

Candidate     Challenges  ->Coleman  ->Franken  ->Other
Coleman (R)     3,404         32       3,125      247
Franken (D)     3,296       2,926        71       299
Both              12          3          5         4
Total           6,688       2,955      3,191      478

Challenge Draft Gain: Franken +236

Margin (Pre-Challenges): Coleman +188
Current Recount Margin: Franken +48

The State Canvassing Board will meet tomorrow morning, at 9 AM CT, to finalize the allotment of all challenges. For now however, based upon this initial draft, Franken has taken a 48 vote lead. The only ballots left to count or perhaps uncount, are the wrongfully rejected absentee ballots and a few ballots that were possibly double counted. The MN Supreme Court will meet tomorrow at 2 PM CT to tackle the issue of the duplicate ballots.

The State Canvassing Board's discussion will be streamed live via TheUpTake.org starting at 9 AM CT.

Published on December 22nd at 8:07 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Review of Challenged Ballots, Day 4

The final day allocated by the State Canvassing Board for the review of challenged ballots started today at 9 AM CT. The proceedings can be watched at the Minnesota House of Representatives Website (as shown below) or at TheUpTake.org.

[The final session has ended, but a replay is available: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]

Here's a recap of yesterday's challenge results:

Candidate    Franken Challenges   Coleman Challenges    Total
Coleman (R)         238                   15             253
Franken (D)          63                  369             432
Other               114                   84             198
Unknown              0                    0               0
Total               415                  468             883          

Challenge Gain: Franken +179

Margin (Pre-Challenges): Coleman +188
Post-Day 3 Recount Margin (w/ Challenges): Coleman +5

Yesterday, the board reviewed 468 of the 1,017 challenges put forth by the Coleman campaign. Based upon these figures, 549 challenges remain, that must be reviewed by the canvassing board before the conclusion of today's session.

Current Challenge Resolution Count:

5:54 PM CT: Coleman +319, Franken +757, Other +248 (After 1,325 Challenges)

And the final challenge count provided by the Minneapolis StarTribune:

Candidate   Challenges  ->Coleman    ->Franken     ->Other
Coleman (R)     852     36 (4.23%)  687 (80.63%) 129 (15.14%)
Franken (D)     472    283 (59.96%)  70 (14.83%) 119 (25.21%)
Unknown          1      0  (0.00%)   0  (0.00%)   0   (0.00%)
Total          1,325   319 (24.08%) 757 (57.13%) 248 (18.72%)

There are however still challenges outstanding; those challenges will be reviewed on December 30th by the State Canvassing Board. The already withdrawn challenges will be included into the count on Tuesday, December 23rd. The Minnesota Supreme Court will also meet on Tuesday to discuss the duplicate ballot issue.

Published on December 19th at 3:56 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Review of Challenged Ballots, Day 3

The second to last day allocated by the State Canvassing Board for the review of challenged ballots started today at 9 AM CT. The proceedings can be watched at the Minnesota House of Representatives Website (as shown below) or at TheUpTake.org.

[The third session has ended, but a replay is available: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]

Yesterday the Board examined 415 total ballots, predominately from the Franken pile, and ruled as follows, according to the StarTribune:

Candidate   Challenges  ->Coleman    ->Franken     ->Other
Coleman (R)     20      7  (35.0%)    7 (35.0%)   6  (30.0%)
Franken (D)    391     225 (57.5%)   56 (14.3%)  110 (28.1%) 
Unknown         4       0  (00.0%)    0 (00.0%)   0  (00.0%)
Total          415     232 (55.9%)   63 (15.2%)  116 (28.0%)

TheUpTake.org arrived at the same total of 415, but their intermediate numbers differ slightly:

                 238 awarded to Coleman 
                 63 awarded to Franken
                 114 awarded to "Other"

The day seemingly belonged to Democrat, Al Franken. Roughly 15% of Franken's challenges were for himself; I find it unlikely that Coleman will reach a similar threshold, but we won't know until the results are in. Today, the board will review, or start to review approximately 1,017 Coleman challenges.

If Coleman's challenges follow the same trend as Franken's (using Star Tribune data), the following result seems possible, if not probable:

Candidate  Gain from Coleman Challenges   Net Challenge Gain
Coleman      1016 * (14.3%) = 145.2       232 + 145.2 = 377.2 
Franken      1016 * (57.5%) = 584.2       63 + 584.2 = 647.2
Other        1016 * (28.1%) = 285.5       116 + 285.5 = 401.5
Total                  1016                   Franken +270

The Star Tribune arrived at "Franken by 275," and that includes the thousands of withdrawals issued by each campaign; a fact the above calculation ignores. So if Franken gains in the ballpark of 270 votes from the challenges, where does that leave the count?

There is still the issue of the mistakenly rejected absentee ballots place in the "fifth pile." According to the Star Tribune, with 51 of 87 counties having completed their review of absentee ballots, 721 remain in the "fifth pile."

If Franken does in fact gain the 270 votes from the challenges, he will overcome the current 188 vote deficit and take an 82 vote lead. This may explain why the Coleman campaign has taken a sudden interest in the double ballot counting issue. They released the following statement yesterday on the topic:

If the founders had wanted some people to have their vote counted once and other people to have their votes counted twice it would have been in the Constitution. Unfortunately for the Franken campaign the case law in this matter is quite clear: Double-counting votes violates the concept of "one person, one vote." The Franken campaign's refusal to correct errors in which the same voter's originally cast ballot, and a duplicate ballot made election night because the original was inadvertently damaged, will create an inaccurate count. It would be an aberration and a corruption of the Constitution to allow for a new standard to be applied to double-count votes just because the Franken campaign is asking for it to be done.

Source: Norm Coleman for Senate

The canvassing board, yesterday, allowed each campaign to make their case regarding this topic. The board essentially decided that this is not an issue they will look into, at the moment, and suggested that a court would be the proper place to take of the claim. They may address the issue again today, however. The board also hinted at the possibility of releasing data this morning, but that does not appear to be the case, at least so far. Perhaps they will address this issue too.

Current Challenge Resolution Count (from TheUpTake.org):

9:00 AM CT: Meeting started; 208 additional challenges from the Coleman campaign. Lunch from 12:30 to 2:00 PM CT. They will handle these additional challenges on December 30th.

9:06 AM CT: The first three ballots were withdrawn with 2 being allocated to Franken and 1 to Other.

9:07 AM CT: They are apparently placing "incident report" challenges in a blue folder for later review.

9:09 AM CT: First actual challenge, goes to nobody; an undervote.

9:17 AM CT: Coleman +238, Franken +72, Other +116 (After 426 Challenges)

9:27 AM CT: Coleman +238, Franken +79, Other +118 (After 435 Challenges)

9:38 AM CT: "Lizard People" ballot ruled an overvote.

9:39 AM CT: Coleman +238, Franken +96, Other +120 (After 453 Challenges)

9:40 AM CT: After 38 challenges, Coleman has not gained a vote.

9:43 AM CT: "Flying Spaghetti Monster" ballot ruled a vote for Franken.

9:56 AM CT: Coleman +238, Franken +127, Other +122 (After 486 Challenges)

10:16 AM CT: Coleman +240, Franken +147, Other +130 (After 518 Challenges)

10:38 AM CT: Coleman +243, Franken +151, Other +133 (After 527 Challenges)

10:49 AM CT: Coleman +243, Franken +153, Other +138 (After 534 Challenges)

11:05 AM CT: Coleman +244, Franken +165, Other +141 (After 549 Challenges)

12:07 PM CT: Coleman +248, Franken +245, Other +155 (After 648 Challenges)

5:12 PM CT: Coleman +253, Franken +432, Other +198 (After 883 Challenges)

Published on December 18th at 7:51 AM CT :: 0 Comments

Review of Challenged Ballots, Day 2

Day 2 of the challenged ballot review process was restarted this morning at 9 AM CT, by the five member Minnesota Canvassing Board. The proceedings can be watched at the Minnesota House of Representatives Website (as shown below) or at TheUpTake.org.

[The second session has ended, but a replay is available: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

A full recap of yesterday's event is available, along with a full video replay of the proceedings.

The board reviewed just 160 votes yesterday placing them well short of the trend required to complete all challenges by the pseudo-deadline of Friday the 19th. Mark Ritchie, the Minnesota Secretary of State requested that each campaign re-review their challenges based on the first phase of rulings. The Coleman campaign did just that, issuing this statement last night:

Today, the Board decided that a series of ballots to which we had withdrawn our challenges should be counted in a certain way. In order to achieve consistency in votes counted for voter intent, we are reinstating a portion of our initially withdrawn challenged ballots to protect our rights and the concept of voter intent.

Source: Norm Coleman for Senate

There has been no further word from the Franken campaign regarding any challenge withdrawal or additions.

Current Challenge Resolution Count:

9:41 AM CT: Coleman +116, Franken +26, Other +48 (After 190 Challenges)

9:49 AM CT: Coleman +122, Franken +26, Other +52 (After 200 Challenges)

2:43 PM CT: Coleman +208, Franken +52, Other +102 (After 362 Challenges)

3:06 PM CT: Coleman +216, Franken +57, Other +106 (After 379 Challenges)

3:16 PM CT: Coleman +220, Franken +60, Other +106 (After 386 Challenges)

3:28 PM CT: Coleman +227, Franken +61, Other +110 (After 398 Challenges)

3:39 PM CT: Coleman +237, Franken +63, Other +112 (After 412 Challenges)

3:49 PM CT: Coleman +239, Franken +63, Other +113 (After 415 Challenges)

3:50 PM CT: Break time for the panel, Coleman challenges to start at 4PM CT.

4:06 PM CT: Discussion on duplicate ballots.

4:11 PM CT: Challenge reviews are done for the day.

4:50 PM CT: Meeting adjourned to reconvene tomorrow at 9 AM CT.

Published on December 17th at 2:48 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Review of Challenged Ballots, Day 1

The State Canvassing Board has begun the tedious process of reviewing the challenged ballots from the Minnesota Senate Recount. The proceedings can be watched at the Minnesota House of Representatives Website (as shown below) or at TheUpTake.org.

[The first session has ended, but a replay is available: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

The exact number of challenges, by either campaign, remains somewhat uncertain. Each campaign has released three phases of withdrawals, roughly halving their initial number of challenges. The most recent withdrawal statement came from the Franken campaign last Friday:

The Franken campaign today announced that it would withdraw another 750 ballot challenges, bringing the total number it has withdrawn to over 1800.

Source: Al Franken for Senate

Based upon each candidate's withdrawals and the Secretary of State's data, the challenge count stands as depicted below:

                          Current   Withdrawn
            Franken:       1,470      1,808
            Coleman:       2,027      1,350
            Total:         3,497      3,158

            Margin:          557        458

Norm Coleman and Al Franken each issued further statements regarding potential withdrawals. We'll start with Norm Coleman's statement issued on Sunday, December 14th at 5:41 PM CT:

With that in mind, it is our intent to reduce our challenges to somewhere south of 1,000 ballot challenges by the time the board meets on Tuesday. It is our hope that prior to the Canvassing Board meeting the board and the Secretary of State will have a credible process that is both uniform and consistent for reviewing challenged ballots.

Source: Norm Coleman for Senate

Franken released a similar statement yesterday, December 15th at 7:52 PM CT:

Two days after members of the state canvassing board issued an urgent plea for campaigns to withdraw additional challenges in order to allow them to finish their work in a timely fashion, the Franken campaign today announced that it would have fewer than 500 challenges remaining by the time the board meets on Tuesday.

Source: Al Franken for Senate

Depending on who you believe, or which count you use, a plethora of challenges, by both campaigns, still must be reviewed by the five member canvassing board. The review process started at 12:00 PM CT today, after a delay, and intends to conclude on Friday the 19th.

The recount results from each of Minnesota's 4130 Precincts were semi-finalized last Friday, the 12th of December. The results are depicted below; challenge conclusions are not included:

Minnesota Recount Results

It appears as the the board as begun by reviewing only challenges made by Al Franken, at least so far. [2:27 PM CT]

Current Challenge Resolution Count:

2:06 PM CT: Coleman +25, Franken +5

2:10 PM CT: Coleman +27, Franken +5

2:16 PM CT: Coleman +29, Franken +6

2:24 PM CT: Coleman +31, Franken +8

2:35 PM CT: Coleman +35, Franken +8

2:39 PM CT: Coleman +37, Franken +8

2:45 PM CT: Coleman +37, Franken +8 (After 62 Challenges)

2:47 PM CT: Coleman +37, Franken +9, Other +12 (After 64 Challenges)

2:58 PM CT: Coleman +43, Franken +9, Other +18 (After 70 Challenges)

3:05 PM CT: Coleman +49, Franken +9, Other +19 (After 77 Challenges)

3:55 PM CT: Coleman +77, Franken +14, Other +29 (After 120 Challenges)

4:12 PM CT: Coleman +79, Franken +14, Other +30 (After 123 Challenges)

4:23 PM CT: Coleman +82, Franken +15, Other +32 (After 129 Challenges)

4:49 PM CT: Coleman +90, Franken +19, Other +36 (After 145 Challenges)

5:02 PM CT: Coleman +96, Franken +21, Other +40 (After 157 Challenges)

5:07 PM CT: Coleman +97, Franken +22, Other +41 (After 160 Challenges)

The Canvassing Board has concluded reviewing ballots, for today. After the final ballot was reviewed they went on to talk about the need for each campaign to further reduce the number of challenges brought to the board. The board reviewed 159 challenges put forth by the Franken campaign, and a single challenge by the Coleman campaign which was mistakenly in the wrong pile. Coleman's challenge was overruled and the vote went to Franken.

Published on December 16th at 1:25 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Recount Canvassing Board Reconvenes

The Minnesota Canvassing Board convened today to decide the fate of 133 missing ballots and to settle the issue of allegedly wrongfully rejected absentee ballots. Before I provide their verdict, I want to recap the current state of the race as provided by the MN Secretary of State's website:

            Recount         Original
Coleman:   1,208,344   -   1,210,995  =  -2,651
Franken:   1,207,657   -   1,210,285  =  -2,628

Current Margin: 687

Precincts Recounted: 4129 of 4130 (99.93% of 11/4 Votes)

The excluded precinct, Minneapolis' 1st Precinct in Ward 3, has yet to release their tally due to the missing "1 of 5" envelope containing 133 ballots. At today's meeting the Canvassing Board decided that the original election day tally would be used, for the precinct in question:

First, the board voted to count 133 missing ballots from a Minneapolis precinct, despite the objections of Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson told the board this morning that it could include the ballots, which otherwise would have cost Franken dozens of votes in his bid to unseat Coleman.

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press

There were 1,965 votes cast on election day in Minneapolis Ward 3, Precinct 1; Franken won 1,090, and Coleman 595 for a difference of 495 votes. Roughly 1,832 votes were recounted in the Minneapolis Precinct for ballots that were not misplaced; the result of that recount will be added to the election day total for the 133 missing ballots. Of the 133 missing ballots, Franken holds a 46 vote lead. There is no publicly available figure for the actual recount result in this precinct. For the purposes of moving forward I will assume that the 495 vote margin will remain consistent. Factoring in the 495 vote gain for Franken decreases the margin to 192 votes.

         Recount [VFA]      Original
Coleman:   1,208,939   -   1,210,995  =  -2,056
Franken:   1,208,747   -   1,210,285  =  -1,538

Current Margin: 192

Precincts Recounted: 4130 of 4130

The canvassing board also voted unanimously to include the allegedly wrongfully rejected absentee ballots:

The announcement came just hours after the state Canvassing Board, which is overseeing the recount in contest between Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, voted unanimously to ask election officials in all 87 counties to identify and count improperly rejected ballots. Board members stressed that they only have the authority to make a recommendation and not to issue an order.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann also suggested that there may be as many as 1,600 of these allegedly wrongfully rejected absentee ballots, or around 13% of all rejected absentee ballots.

At this point it's impossible to know the extent to which these rulings will favor either candidate, but the Franken campaign had long been pushing for these resolutions. As a result, the Coleman campaign is asking the MN Supreme Court to halt the recounting of these allegedly wrongfully rejected absentee ballots "until a standard procedure is established."

Today's rulings place the final certification 133 votes closer, with challenges and absentee ballots still to be resolved. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie continued to push for a reduction to the number of challenges making this remark: "Don't make us tell you when they're frivolous." He expects both campaigns to further reduce the number of challenges. Coleman preempted this request last night by issuing his third statement relating to challenges:

Today Fritz Knaak, Senior Counsel for Coleman for Senate, announced that the campaign will be withdrawing an additional 225 ballots challenged during the hand recount. To date, the Coleman campaign has withdrawn 1,350 challenged ballots, with the State Canvassing Board set to meet on December 16 to start reviewing ballots challenged by both campaigns.

Source: Norm Coleman For Senate

Al Franken has yet to issue a third round of withdrawals; thus leaving his challenge numbers unchanged:

                          Current   Withdrawn
            Franken:       2,220      1,058
            Coleman:       2,027      1,350
            Total:         4,247      2,408

            Margin:          193        192

There are still 4,247 challenges yet to be resolved and an unknown number of allegedly wrongfully rejected absentee ballots possibly numbering in the 1,600 range. The 12 sealed and uncounted absentee ballots also remain at large, although today's ruling will likely mark their inclusion. Combing these separate results yields a total of 5,859 outstanding and uncounted votes still to be acknowledged before the very flexible December 19th deadline.

Published on December 12nd at 3:53 PM CT :: 0 Comments

All's Quiet on the MN Recount Front

In the span between the pseudo-conclusion of the recount last Friday, and today, the flow of actual information has essentially ceased; having been replaced by the battle over public perception. With the first round of challenge withdrawals having already taken place, each candidate decided a second round was in order.

The Franken campaign lead, again by releasing the following statement on December 9th at 9:43 AM CT:

The Franken campaign announced today that it was withdrawing an additional 425 ballot challenges, bringing the total number of challenges withdrawn by Franken to 1,058.

Source: Al Franken For Senate

Coleman was again, late to the withdrawing party; issuing this release about 8 hours later at 5:33 PM CT:

The Coleman for Senate campaign today announced it would be withdrawing an additional 475 challenged ballots ahead of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board meeting to review these ballots next week. On Thursday, December 4, the campaign withdrew 650 challenges for a total of 1,125 challenges withdrawn by the Coleman campaign.

Source: Norm Coleman For Senate

The Secretary of State's data does not exclude these withdrawn challenges, so its impossible to draw any trends about these challenges beyond simple arithmetic. If all withdrawn challenges are factored into the publicly available challenge count, a new challenge count emerges:

                          Current   Withdrawn
            Franken:       2,220      1,058
            Coleman:       2,292      1,125
            Total:         4,514      2,183

            Margin:           72         67

Its is absolutely impossible to know how these challenges will break, but we do know that Franken currently trails by at least 180 votes. Using this assumption, I created functions for each candidate's challenge gains as a function of the total number of relevant challenges; these functions are shown below:

                 180 = Franken - Coleman
                   x = Franken + Coleman

Where x is the number challenges directly adding to either candidate's total. Here's an example; lets assume x is 3,000 meaning that out of the 4,514 total challenges, only 3,000 of them actually resulted in either candidate gaining votes:

                 180 = Franken - Coleman
                3000 = Franken + Coleman

               3000  = (180 + Coleman) + Coleman
               2820  = 2(Coleman)

                1410 = Coleman
                1590 = Franken

So if there are 3,000 additive challenges, Franken must win 53% of them. The graph below illustrates the above relationship for all values of x ranging between 180 and 4514:

% Challenges Needed For Franken Victory

There is absolutely no data available to access the relative difficulty associated with reaching any challenge percentage in the above graph. The graph simply presents the outcome necessary for a Franken victory based on the currently available data.

Published on December 11st at 2:24 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Jamie McIntyre, of CNN, is a Joke

A fascinating, and I don't mean intellectually stimulating, article was published today by CNN contributor Jamie McIntyre entitled Myth of Shinseki lingers. I'm going to include his entire piece and work through it paragraph by paragraph. The thesis of the article reads as follows:

The nomination of retired Army Chief Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of veterans affairs is widely seen as an appointment with a message, since Shinseki ran afoul of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has the inside story of how Shinseki's reputation as a "truth-teller" has been burnished beyond what the facts support.

Source: CNN

Seems interesting enough right, wrong. It takes just thirteen words for Jamie to entirely contradict the premise of his piece:

In fairness to Gen. Eric Shinseki, he's never said "I told you so."

What does that even mean? Seriously. Either Jamie is implying that Gen. Eric Shinseki was wrong, which in itself is wrong (more on that later) or Jamie is saying that Gen. Eric Shinseki wasn't arrogant enough to boast, thus implying that he was right. In either case Jamie is wrong.

But many others have elevated his now-famous February 2003 testimony to the level of Scripture.

And if by "Scripture" you mean that Gen. Eric Shinseki's foresight regarding the Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation were correct, then yes; otherwise no.

Shinseki was right, they say, when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee a month before the invasion that something on the order "several hundred thousand troops" would be necessary to keep order in a post-invasion Iraq.

Thank you for proving my previous point, Jamie.

At the time, that observation drew loud scoffs from then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and from his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who dismissed the prediction as "wildly off the mark."

Still, Shinseki wasn't advocating 300,000 troops be dispatched into Iraq. In fact, he said specifically that the forces mobilized in the region to that point were probably enough, and he made it clear he would have defer to the combatant commander, Gen. Tommy Franks.

"I would have to rely on combatant commanders' exact requirements," he said.

But pressed by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, to make an off-the-cuff guesstimate, Shinseki said "it would take a significant ground force."

Okay? What part of "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required" to invade Iraq, is so difficult to comprehend? Shinseki absolutely supported a ground force of at least 300,000; I would say several implies at least three as couple typically denotes two.

Since that day, critics of the war have lauded Shinseki's prescience and his willingness to speak truth to power.

"Here was a career officer who had valuable insights who was shunted aside by arrogant civilians," University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole is quoted as saying in Sunday's Washington Post.

"When he had his disagreements with the administration, he wasn't afraid to speak up," Vietnam Veterans of America's John Rowan told CNN on hearing of the nomination.

It's an appealing narrative, but the facts as we know them are not nearly so complimentary to the retired Army chief.

Let's see the "facts" then Jamie, so far neither Prof. Juan Cole nor John Rowan have said anything disputable.

You see, Shinseki never made any recommendation for more troops for Iraq. In fact, as Army chief of staff, it wasn't really part of his job to take part in direct war planning.

If it wasn't part of his job, why would you expect him to do it?

But as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he did owe the president his best military advice. And if he felt strongly enough that the advice was not being taken, he could have resigned.

So let me get this straight Jamie, you're suggesting that one of the few Generals with any say in any military planning, who was ultimately proven to be correct about his pre-war assertions, should have resigned because the President ignored his advice. Unbelievable.

According to senior military officers who were in the pre-war meetings, Shinseki never objected to the war plans, and he didn't press for any changes.

Wait, if "it wasn't really part of [Shinseki]'s job to take part in direct war planning" why was he in "the pre-war meetings?"

When the joint chiefs were asked point-blank by then-Chairman Gen. Richard Meyers if they had any concerns about the plans before they went to the president, Shinseki kept silent.

Jamie, you've already stated that Shinseki believed "it would take a significant ground force" to invade Iraq. Did you want Shinseki to stand up and say this is a bad idea, we need more troops? It wasn't his job, as you previously mentioned, and his views were clearly understood and already ignored by all those involved.

He kept his counsel

But Shinseki was a very private leader who did media briefings only when ordered to and rarely gave interviews. If he had concerns about the Iraq war plans, he kept them to himself.

He admitted as much in a rare e-mail exchange with Newsweek magazine in 2006.

Asked to respond to the criticism that he failed to push to stop Rumsfeld from going into Iraq with too few troops, he told the magazine, "Probably that's fair. Not my style."

Knowing his opinions were not particularly welcome, Shinseki kept his mouth shut. In that sense, he was "marginalized," as some say.

Again Jamie, you prove my point, and contradict your own. Nobody had anything to gain from Shinseki's contining vocalization of his views. The war was still going to happen in whatever manner Rumsfeld and Bush wanted it done, and I would rather have a General who was correct and silent (Shinseki) than a General who was loud and wrong (possible replacement had Shinseki resigned).

And it's true that in retrospect, many U.S. commanders believe there should have been more troops sent to Iraq, even though it's far from clear that would have prevented the insurgency and sectarian violence that the Pentagon failed to anticipate.

But the idea that Shinseki was a strong advocate for a bigger force and that no one listened vastly overstates his role.

It's one of those Washington myths that are almost impossible to dispel -- like the popular misconception that Shinseki was fired for standing up to Rumsfeld.

That myth is so pervasive, the authoritative Associated Press repeated it again Saturday night, saying "Shinseki was removed from [his] post after challenging the Bush administration."

He did not stand up to Rumsfeld, nor was he fired.

Nobody is overstating Shinseki's role. Perhaps you are understating the gross incompetence of the Bush Administration's planning of the Iraq War. Shinseki may not have been removed from his post but there was definitely contempt from Rumsfeld. Shenseki's retirement took place just 4 months after his preceding testimony. At Shinseki's retirement ceremony, no senior civilians attended breaking an historical precedence. I'll also point out that the AP is garbage, go ahead and find another source propagating this "myth," and get back to me.

There's no question that Shinseki was on the outs with his civilian bosses, especially Rumsfeld.

Shinseki ordered that all soldiers wear black berets, a move that infuriated the special forces community, for whom the berets were a badge signifying their elite status. Rumsfeld, according to aides, was particularly miffed that Shinseki spent so much effort changing the Army's head gear, when the nation was at war.

He retired after serving a full four years as chief at a ceremony in 2003 that neither Rumsfeld nor Wolfowitz attended.

In a briefing carried by CNN, Shinseki stated that "The Army will change to remain the most capable and the most respected Army in the world." Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz then went on to say that "[Shinseki & Wolfowitz] thought it important to have a symbolic and a visible demonstration that this Army was prepared for change and undertaking it." Both were commenting on the inclusion of the black beret into the Army uniform. It seems as though Rumsfeld was more concerned with physically waging war than he was with supporting the operations of the US Army.

A man of principle

In announcing Shinseki's selection as secretary of veterans affairs, President-elect Barack Obama called him someone who "always stood on principle."

"No one will ever doubt that this former Army chief of staff has the courage to stand up for our troops and our veterans," he said.

In applauding the selection, Brandon Friedman, vice chairman of VoteVets.org, said, "If there are two things everyone knows about Gen. Shinseki, they are that he always thinks ahead to what needs may be down the road, and is not afraid to strongly speak his mind to the president of the United States."

Now that Shinseki is working for someone who believes in him, that could well turn out to be true -- no matter how much he kept his counsel to himself in the past.

Seriously Jamie, what was your point? You know what the facts support? The facts support an opinion formulated by Gen. Shinseki before the invasion of Iraq, this truth was his truth, what he believed. When the dust settled, Shinseki was correct. Whether you want to call him a "truth-teller" because of this has absolutely nothing to do with deception, but rather perception. If you value honesty and integrity Shinseki did absolutely nothing wrong, he stood by his beliefs and didn't waver; others may have disagreed with him, but he always agreed with himself. he told his truth, and it just so happens that it turned out to be the truth.

Published on December 8th at 11:49 PM CT :: 1 Comment

MN-Sen: Recount Complete...Sort Of

The semi-final results of the hand recount were published today at 1:28 PM CT on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website. Of Minnesota's 4,130 precincts, 4,129 have finished reporting. The remaining precinct represents the Minneapolis' 3rd Ward where 133 Ballots have gone missing. During the ensuing search 12 sealed and uncounted absentee ballots were found. Pending the returns of these 145 ballots, here is the count:

            Recount         Original
Coleman:   1,208,344   -   1,210,995  =  -2,651
Franken:   1,207,657   -   1,210,285  =  -2,628

Franken Net Today:   13 (91 Yesterday, -13 day before, 41)
Total Franken Net:   23
Franken Deficit:    192
Current Margin:     687

But there are also 1,965 votes, as certified on November 18th, from the aforementioned Minneapolis precinct, which are not included in the count. Based upon those roughly two thousand votes, Franken leads Coleman by 495; and that 495 is not included in the table above.

There are still 6,655 challenged ballots that have not been counted that will be reviewed by the canvassing board starting next week. From the challenge pile, Coleman is responsible for 3,375 and Franken 3,280. Both sides have called the opposition's challenges frivolous, and both sides appear to be right.

On December 3rd, the Franken Campaign issued a press release regarding their frivolous challenges:

This afternoon, the Franken campaign sent a letter to the Secretary of State withdrawing 633 challenges. The fact that we are withdrawing these challenges does not in any way have any effect on the likelihood that Al Franken will win the recount. The only practical impact of what we are doing today is that it will save the state canvassing board the trouble of looking at these challenges themselves.

Source: Al Franken For Senate

Not to be out done, the Coleman campaign released their version of the story on December 4th:

Today, in the spirit of working to remedy an excess of challenged ballots, we will voluntarily withdraw 650 challenged by the Coleman campaign. This morning, I left a voicemail, and sent an email, to Franken campaign attorney Marc Elias regarding challenged ballots. We are doing so this in the spirit of reaching out to their campaign so we can sit down early next week and discuss what process we can agree to in order to winnow down these challenged ballots.

Source: Norm Coleman For Senate

Factoring in the 1,283 withdrawals into the challenge count yields the following result:

            Franken:  2,647
            Coleman:  2,725
            Total:    5,372

            Margin:      78

Once the final precinct is included, disregarding the 133 ballots, Franken could net as many as 495 votes. If the 133 ballots were erroneously counted twice, Franken would lose 46 votes, reducing his gain from Minneapolis Ward 3's First Precinct to 449. If Franken also sweeps the 12 new absentee ballots, he will head into the challenge phase, of the recount, with a minimal deficit of 180 votes.

Published on December 5th at 4:02 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Al Franken Holds An Interesting Lead

The graph below shows the number of challenges by each candidate relative to how they are performing in a given precinct. The dots represent challenges; a dot to the north of the x-axis represents a precinct that the candidate is currently winning. A dot to the south shows the number of challenges in a precinct that each candidate is currently losing. There are no negative challenges.

MN Senate Recount Regression

The next graph shows each candidate's challenge regression on the same graph:

MN Senate Recount Regression

If you add up the number of challenges in each precinct, using the same positive/negative association used above, you get the results below:

            Franken:  +619
            Coleman:  +63

            Net Franken: 556

While Franken is certainly not challenging more total ballots, it does appear as though 60% of Franken's challenges occur in precincts he is currently winning, only 50.8% of Coleman's challenges come from precincts Coleman is winning.

If the current data is extrapolated into the remaining precincts the margin for Franken increases:

            Franken:  +637 (+/- 76)
            Coleman:  +57  (+/- 65)

            Net Franken: 580

We'll find out later tonight after the official SOS result if these numbers mean anything. Franken is releasing 633 of his challenges, and Coleman is doing about the same. If The 580 vote margin holds up it may suggest two things:

(1) Franken is challenging more ballots for himself.

(2) Franken is challenging a ton of ballots in precincts where the race is relatively close, and the challenges by Franken, are actually inducing a Franken lead.

We'll find out more later tonight.

Update [8:15 PM CT]: Well its later tonight and the new numbers have been posted by the MN SOS. First a recap of today's official result:

            Recount         Original
Coleman:   1,193,307   -   1,195,885  =  -2,578
Franken:   1,197,965   -   1,200,533  =  -2,568

Franken Net Today:   91 (-13 Yesterday, 41 day before, -29)
Total Franken Net:  -10
Franken Deficit:    225

The challenge numbers have also been updated and are shown below using the postive/negative convention already established:

            Franken:  +765
            Coleman:  -41

            Net Franken: 806

Unfortunately the new challenge numbers do not factor in the withdrawn ballots by both campaigns; there is a disclaimer on the results page explicitly stating that "these totals do not include results for 633 challenged ballots that were withdrawn by the Al Franken campaign." Each candidate increased their challenge count, Coleman by 70 and Franken 112. If we compare today's challenges with yesterday's, it is safe to assume that Coleman's frivolous challenges are also included in today's count; unless of course, Franken challenged 745 ballots today.

It now appears as though 62% of Franken's challenges occur in precincts he is currently winning. Coleman's percentage slipped from 50.8% to 49.4% with the inclusion of the newly posted data.

Published on December 4th at 6:51 PM CT :: 0 Comments

MN-Sen: Recount Regression, Day 14

For a more complete explanation of the process used, please refer to my initial post on the subject.

Recap of today's official result:

            Recount         Original
Coleman:   1,174,964   -   1,177,465  =  -2,501
Franken:   1,186,134   -   1,188,736  =  -2,602

Franken Net Today:  -13 (41 Yesterday, -29 day before, -100)
Total Franken Net: -101
Franken Deficit:    316

The following two graphs depict the number of votes gained or lost with respect to the total votes recorded for each precinct that has completed their recount. Each dot represents the change between the originally certified result and the post recount tally in a given precinct with x number of total votes:

MN Senate Recount Regression

And the current functions used in conjunction with the regression:

MN Senate Recount Regression Functions Not Found

Now again using those functions, the following two graphs further illustrate the regression interpolation. The graph below illustrates the regression when applied to precincts of all sizes; Wright County, the largest county finished recounting. The dotted lines represent the two-day-ago regression, while the dashed lines represent yesterday's. The thin lines depict the linear regression while the thicker curvy lines present a quartic regression. The black bars emanating from the x axis represent the number of precincts, statewide with x number of total votes. There are a few straggler precincts between 2600 and 6621 that are not depicted due to the resolution of the graph.

MN Senate Recount Regression

Using the previous two graphs, and the functions they represent, a projection can be made for the cases covered. For each precinct, the total vote total is taken and applied to the listed function for each candidate. The result is then added to that candidate's sum, and the next precinct is calculated. This process is done using precinct results from the final certification. Performing the calculation across all precincts yields the following result:

            Franken:  -2634 (+/- 152)
            Coleman:  -2535 (+/- 144)

            Net Franken:  -98 (+/- 296)

Franken still appears to trail by 98 votes but these projections have a large window of certainty. If the extreme is taken, by taking -98 and adding 296 votes, Franken still falls short of the pre-recount deficient of 215.

The graph below shows the number of challenges by each candidate relative to how they are performing in a given precinct. The dots represent challenges; a dot to the north of the x-axis represents a precinct that the candidate is currently winning. A dot to the south shows the number of challenges in a precinct that each candidate is currently losing. There are no negative challenges.

MN Senate Recount Regression

The next graph shows each candidate's challenge regression on the same graph:

MN Senate Recount Regression

It appears that a larger percent of Franken challenges occur in precincts he is currently winning, relative to Coleman's percentage. They both appear to be challenging more ballots in precincts they are winning, but Franken at a higher rate. This discrepancy may allow Franken to make up additional votes, but an exact number is impossible to predict.

This analysis is valid as of right now (3:06 AM CT 12/4), after 97.58% of all votes have been recounted. Recounting should continue, uninterrupted through Friday.

Published on December 4th at 3:06 AM CT :: 0 Comments

Georgia Runoff Fallout

The internet-left seems to be horrifically consumed with the Chambliss victory, but it all seems rather baseless, rooted purely in emotion. Nothing went wrong for the Democrats, they simply did not win. To prove my point I'll refer to the following analogy:

In any given state (with a Senate Election) the incumbent walks to the top of a building holding their opponents' egg. Throughout the campaign the challenger attempts to "protect" their egg by any means. The height of the building is decided by the political environment. Using Georgia as an example, the initial deficit facing a Democratic Challenger is comparatively higher than other Senate races across the country. The demographics in Georgia were not advantageous to Jim Martin at any point.

After the November 4th result, Martin's egg was essentially intact, but showed signs of breakdown; Martin initially lost by about 3 percent. When the runoff was sanctioned, the same egg was used again as Jim Martin was still the candidate. Martin not only had to protect his egg, but he had to do a better job, from a taller building; the Republican's had motivation and, as evidenced by the initial result, more support.

On the second time around, Martin's already weakened egg shattered on the pavement below. Did this Republican victory signal a blatant rejection of Democratic values? No. It is impossible to argue that the Democratic brand was rejected in the Georgia runoff, if it was already rejected on November 4th, nothing changed; remember Obama lost Georgia too. If you look at the polls in the initial Senate election, or the runoff Martin NEVER led.

It is absolutely foolish for anyone to manufacture a Democratic "problem" based upon the runoff result. If this was your message you should have been on it 28 days ago. A Republican led the entire election cycle, and eventually went on to win; there was no upset, but there was some drama. This is what should have happened; there is no Democratic tragedy, there is nothing to learn.

Published on December 3rd at 2:41 PM CT :: 0 Comments

MN-Sen: Recount Regression, Day 13

For a more complete explanation of the process used, please refer to my initial post on the subject.

Recap of today's official result:

            Recount         Original
Coleman:   1,119,878   -   1,122,217  =  -2,339
Franken:   1,122,413   -   1,124,840  =  -2,427

Franken Net Today:   41 (-29 Yesterday, -100 day before, -20)
Total Franken Net:  -88
Franken Deficit:    280

The following two graphs depict the number of votes gained or lost with respect to the total votes recorded for each precinct that has completed their recount. Each dot represents the change between the originally certified result and the post recount tally in a given precinct with x number of total votes:

MN Senate Recount Regression

And the current functions used in conjunction with the regression:

MN Senate Recount Regression Functions Not Found

Now again using those functions, the following two graphs further illustrate the regression interpolation. The graph below illustrates the regression on precincts whose vote totals are less than 3,494; the largest precinct that has completed a recount. The dotted lines represent the two-day-ago regression, while the dashed lines represent yesterday's. The thin lines depict the linear regression while the thicker curvy lines present a quartic regression. The black bars emanating from the x axis represent the number of precincts, statewide with x number of total votes. There are a few straggler precincts between 2600 and 6621 that are not depicted due to the resolution of the graph.

MN Senate Recount Regression

The graph below goes further and fits the regression onto all 4,130 precincts statewide; this forces 17,270 additional votes, that lie in precincts that surpass the 3,858 vote threshold, into the predetermined trend.

MN Senate Recount Regression

Using the previous two graphs, and the functions they represent, a projection can be made for the cases covered. The first case simply includes precincts with 3,858 or less, while precincts above and beyond that figure are entirely ignored. For each precinct, the total vote total is taken and applied to the listed function for each candidate. The result is then added to that candidate's sum, and the next precinct is calculated. This process is done using precinct results from the final certification.

            Franken:  -2478 (+/- 116)
            Coleman:  -2402 (+/- 112)

            Net Franken:  -76.56 (+/- 228)

Franken is now actually projected to lose votes, about 77 to be exact but with all the challenges outstanding, these projections are far from accurate. There are also 17,270 votes excluded from the above extrapolation. If those additional 17,270 votes are applied to the process, nothing really changes but the margin of error:

            Franken:  -2495 (+/- 251)
            Coleman:  -2418 (+/- 261)

            Net Franken:  -77.29 (+/- 512)

The graph below shows the number of challenges by each candidate relative to how they are performing in a given precinct. The dots represent challenges; a dot to the north of the x-axis represents a precinct that the candidate is currently winning. A dot to the south shows the number of challenges in a precinct that each candidate is currently losing. There are no negative challenges.

MN Senate Recount Regression

The next graph shows each candidate's challenge regression on the same graph:

MN Senate Recount Regression

It appears that a larger percent of Franken challenges occur in precincts he is currently winning, relative to Coleman's percentage. They both appear to be challenging more ballots in precincts they are winning, but Franken at a higher rate. This discrepancy may allow Franken to make up additional votes, but an exact number is impossible to predict.

This analysis is valid as of right now (9:21 PM CT 12/2), after 92.69% of all votes have been recounted. Recounting should continue, uninterrupted through Friday.

Published on December 2nd at 9:21 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Ready, Set, Bailout?

The banks got their bailout, will the automakers be next? I'm sadly inclined to say probably, despite the first bailout's focus on presidential politicking. The forthcoming bailout will likely follow the same path. But it doesn't have to be like that; the auto industry can be saved without writing a blank check.

The greatest obstacle to any bailout revolves around the concern of limited monetary resources; is any one entity more worthy than the next? In the case of the big three, a valid argument could probably be made to support the bailout of each company, but a definitive answer does not exist. So what comes next? Two questions must be asked of the situation; (A) Is the company worth saving? (B) Can the company use the money to survive, while providing a service or product that enables all involved to thrive? In the case of the auto bailout, A is essentially unarguable as people need cars, but B presents a dilemma. Is a stagnant, but functional auto industry better than no auto industry at all? Capital Hill seems to be struggling with an answer, but it doesn't have to be like that; the auto industry could be made better.

The American Auto Industry has demonstrated a complete inability to compete with the likes of Honda and Toyota over the past decade. Why should the American Taxpayer be required to prop up these failing entities with years of historical incompetence? The truth is, Americans need cars, and at the moment there are only three American options. In the future a fourth company may arise, but in the interim, at least two of these companies must exist; for both diversity of product and antitrust laws.

If two of these companies must survive, doesn't it make sense to choose the two companies best situated for future growth and expansion? Here's the plan: a massive auto industry throwdown with the winners splitting the currently proposed $25 Billion bailout. Each company sends a representative to a congressional oversight panel and the rules are decided in committee. The competition is open to any company, any entity, any single person meeting predetermined qualifications and will last 6 months. If at the end of 6 months, the designated objectives are not met, the $25 Billion is not allocated and the companies must survive on their own, or fold. If just one company meets the objectives, the next closest company must also receive funding. All of these contingencies, and others, must be established in advance, by the aforementioned committee.

If the participants want to compete, they must be held accountable by providing non-subsidized financing. Banks accepting money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) would be required to provide a loan to any interested participant using reasonable lending discretion. Each bank would also be forgiven of the 5% interest rate associated with their participation in TARP, upto the amount loaned to automotive throwdown participants. Essentially all funding for the throwdown would be provided by TARP through participating banks. The Treasury Secretary could then insure these automotive loans, thus removing liability from the banks themselves. Under these circumstances, the banks benefit by collecting interest and the government is not required to spend additional money (assuming the banks are responsible lenders) for at least another 6 months.

This scenario presents essentially two possible outcomes; either (1) All participants collapse, or (2) at least two participants succeed and the automotive industry gets, what is hopefully a jump start into economic and technological prosperity. In both scenarios, it is assumed that the banks made reasonable lending decisions, and are consequently unaffected by either outcome.

The first scenario presents possible ramifications; I'll start with job loss. Should the jobs created by the autos factor into the bailout decision? There seems to be a growing movement, John McCain included, who foolishly believe once manufacturing jobs are lost, they are gone forever. The manufacturing sector will never disappear so long as there are items to be made. Anybody working, with the right support can be retrained to make another item, so long as there are other items to be made.

So how could the government ensure job availability to these workers in the event of an American automotive collapse? I suggest a public works project. Anybody unemployed can go work for the federal government, in their home state building windmills or solar panels under a newly created National Alternative Energy Agency (NAEA). Using the World War II model, a massive industrial complex could be created that generates new jobs and reduces America's strain on foreign fuels.

If the government is willing to float a $700 Billion check to the banking industry why wouldn't it spend $647,521,359,420 (PDF) to alleviate America's need for fossil fuel generated electricity. Wasn't the down fall of the auto industry higher gas prices? Doesn't it seem absurd to blindly support a failing industry without addressing the central cause of its failure? Yet it seems all too likely that such a thing will happen.

The auto industry has survived on minor revisions for the better part of a decade, but America doesn't need a recolored cozy-coupe, we need a green cozy-coupe.

Published on December 2nd at 12:11 AM CT :: 1 Comment

MN-Sen: Recount Regression, Day 12

For a more complete explanation of the process used, please refer to my initial post on the subject.

Recap of today's official result:

            Recount         Original
Coleman:   1,100,922   -   1,103,291  =  -2,369
Franken:   1,105,030   -   1,107,528  =  -2,498

Franken Net Today:   -29 (-100 Yesterday, -20 day before, -5)
Total Franken Net:  -106
Franken Deficit:     321

The following two graphs depict the number of votes gained or lost with respect to the total votes recorded for each precinct that has completed their recount. Each dot represents the change between the originally certified result and the post recount tally in a given precinct with x number of total votes:

MN Senate Recount Regression

And the current functions used in conjunction with the regression:

MN Senate Recount Regression Functions Not Found

Now again using those functions, the following two graphs further illustrate the regression interpolation. The graph below illustrates the regression on precincts whose vote totals are less than 3,494; the largest precinct that has completed a recount. The dotted lines represent the two-day-ago regression, while the dashed lines represent yesterday's. The thin lines depict the linear regression while the thicker curvy lines present a quartic regression. The black bars emanating from the x axis represent the number of precincts, statewide with x number of total votes. There are a few straggler precincts between 2600 and 6621 that are not depicted due to the resolution of the graph.

MN Senate Recount Regression

The graph below goes further and fits the regression onto all 4,130 precincts statewide; this forces 17,270 additional votes, that lie in precincts that surpass the 3,858 vote threshold, into the predetermined trend.

MN Senate Recount Regression

Using the previous two graphs, and the functions they represent, a projection can be made for the cases covered. The first case simply includes precincts with 3,858 or less, while precincts above and beyond that figure are entirely ignored. For each precinct, the total vote total is taken and applied to the listed function for each candidate. The result is then added to that candidate's sum, and the next precinct is calculated. This process is done using precinct results from the final certification.

            Coleman:  -2493 (+/- 112)
            Franken:  -2619 (+/- 118)

            Net Franken:  -126.33 (+/- 230)

Franken is now actually projected to lose votes, about 126 to be exact but with all the challenges outstanding, these projections are far from accurate. There are also 17,270 votes excluded from the above extrapolation. If those additional 17,270 votes are applied to the process, nothing really changes but the margin of error:

            Franken:  -2637 (+/- 258)
            Coleman:  -2510 (+/- 272)

            Net Franken:  -127.28 (+/- 530)

The graph below shows the number of challenges by each candidate relative to how they are performing in a given precinct. The dots represent challenges; a dot to the north of the x-axis represents a precinct that the candidate is currently winning. A dot to the south shows the number of challenges in a precinct that each candidate is currently losing. There are no negative challenges.

MN Senate Recount Regression

The next graph shows each candidate's challenge regression on the same graph:

MN Senate Recount Regression

It appears that a larger percent of Franken challenges occur in precincts he is currently winning, relative to Coleman's percentage. They both appear to be challenging more ballots in precincts they are winning, but Franken at a higher rate. This discrepancy may allow Franken to make up additional votes, but an exact number is impossible to predict.

This analysis is valid as of right now (12:12 AM CT 12/1), after 91.13% of all votes have been recounted. Recounting should continue, uninterrupted through Friday.

Published on December 2nd at 12:11 AM CT :: 0 Comments

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