Litigation, Day 7

I probably won't be able to watch any of today's proceedings live, but I will have a summary later on this evening.

2:29 PM CT: Joe Friedberg is questioning the Washington County Elections Director, Kevin Corbid.

2:33 PM CT: Mr. Friedberg then discussed a ballot completed by an absentee voter. The election officials agreed with the original determination; it was properly rejected because the signatures did not match. This was from Exhibit C4.

2:34 PM CT: Onto Exhibit 5 and 6. Mr. Friedberg stated that there were stickers placed on the ballot but they did not overlap the signature signing area. Mr. Corbid agreed and stated that the ballot was properly rejected.

2:35 PM CT: Mr. Lillehaug then objected and addressed the judges. He referenced Exhibit C325; he asked under Minnesota Statue § 203.b12 sub 2, that any ballot where a sticker is not concealing directions should require a signature. The objected was noted, but overruled.

2:37 PM CT: Mr. Friedberg then offered Exhibit C7 and C8. Mr. Corbid stated that the original issue was a signature mismatch, and upon further inspection, was properly rejected. Mr. Friedberg then asked Mr. Corbid to analyze the similarity of the application signature and the envelopes signature, specifically the 'N's. Mr. Corbid stated that the 'N's were similar, but the rest of the signature was not close enough.

2:40 PM CT: Mr. Friedberg then moved onto Exhibits C9 and C10; the panel then asked whether Mr. Friedberg was going to continue offering signature mismatched ballots. The judge stated that the panel could do this on their own. Mr. Friedberg stated that he had specifics he wanted to cover.

Summary [1:29 AM CT]:I will eventually update this page with a summary of today's events. In the meantime, two major decisions were published by the court. The first order is fairly self explanatory:

Contestants Cullen Sheehan and Norm Coleman ("Contestants") and Contestee Al Franken ("Contestee"), through their attorneys, hereby stipulate and agree as follows:


2. The 933 Ballots were properly and lawfully opened and counted, and the results of the 933 Ballots were properly and lawfully included in the results of the 2008 United States Senate election as certified by the Minnesota State Canvassing Board. Accordingly, Contestants dismiss with prejudice all claims in the Notice of Contest relating to the 933 Ballots, and Contestee consents to the dismissal. Costs, if any, shall be determined later. To further Minnesota's policy of ballot secrecy, the Minnesota Secretary of State shall take all necessary steps to remove and/or redact permanently the numbers affixed to the ballot envelopes and ballots on January 3, 2009. The totals from the opening, sorting and counting of these ballots shall be included in the results of the 2008 United States Senate election.

Dated: February 3, 2009

Source: Stiputlation and Order Re: Absentee Ballots via [PDF]

The quoted text above is literally the entire order, although a memorandum with some other background information was appended to the end of the document. This ruling basically means that the absentee ballots that were counted under the pretense of wrongful rejection were validly counted and cannot be uncounted by any means. The court also ruled that any identifying marks, contained on any of these 933 ballots, resulting from the absentee ballot sorting process, should be permanently removed.

The court also presented their ruling with "prejudice;" this verbiage establishes a pseudo-precedent, although not a legal definition, for any re-review of the ruling, by the same court. This classification does not however have any effect on the application of this order. It should also be noted that this determination was a stipulation agreed to by both campaigns; the probability of this issue resurfacing in front of the Election Contest Court is unlikely.

The second order was slightly lengthier, and even more important:

The above-entitled matter came before the Court upon a Motion in Limine by Contestee Al Franken to Limit Absentee-Ballot Evidence to Ballots Pleaded in the Notice of Contest. The Court having read the arguments of counsel, and based upon the files, records, and proceedings herein, makes the following:


1. Contestee Al Franken's Motion in Limine to Limit Absentee-Ballot Evidence to Ballots Pleaded in the Notice of Contest is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:

a. The scope of this trial shall be limited to the following:

i. Absentee ballots where it is claimed that the voter complied with the requirements of Minnesota Statutes § 203B.12, subd, 2.

ii. Absentee ballots where it is claimed that the voter's non-compliance with Minnesota Statutes § 2038.12, subd. 2 was not due to fault on behalf of the voter.

b. Contestants estimate the total number of these ballots to be 4,797.

c. Contestants are limited to presenting evidence on only those ballots that were specifically disclosed to Contestee on or before January 23,2009.

2. Any other relief not specifically provided herein is DENIED.

3. The attached memorandum is incorporated herein by reference.

Source: Order on Contestee's Motion in Limine to Limit Absentee-Ballot Evidence to Ballots Pleaded in the Notice of Contest via [PDF]

At this point, the Coleman campaign will likely subpoena each and everyone of these 4,797 rejected absentee ballots, from their respective counties. If the Coleman campaign's subpoenas are successful, the number of ballots actually presentable as evidence, under section 1C, remains unknown. If for a moment we assume that all 4,797 ballots are admitted as evidence, they simply become eligible for consideration; they are not automatically placed in the to be counted pile. Although this order places significant restrictions upon the Coleman campaign, the Franken campaign is completely unaffected by today's determination. The wording of the order appears to imply an overarching decision, but it only affects the potential inclusion of absentee ballots; the doubling counting issue and others, raised by the Coleman campaign, are still very much alive.

On a somewhat related subject; why are people incapable of referencing the actual court documents? If you are going to write an article referencing a decision or order put forth by the Election Contest Court, link to the source. This process is about disseminating information and ensuring that all lawfully cast ballots are accurately counted; not perpetuating spin and misinformation. The only people who have an opinion in this matter are the three judges presiding behind the bench, this is not an election, this is a judicial process. The people of Minnesota have already spoken, it is now the duty of the State to ensure that their will is upheld.

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