Secrecy Envelope Search Complete

On Thursday, February 26th, the Election Contest Tribunal commisioned a search for valid registration forms within 1526 currently rejected absentee ballots. The conclusion of this search was supposed to have occurred last Wednesday, March 4th, but for whatever reason the release of this information was delayed until today.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune apparently obtained the search results late Monday afternoon as evidenced in one of their online articles:

Here is a county breakdown of 89 rejected-absentee ballot envelopes that were found to have properly completed registration cards. The letter in parentheses after the county name indicates which candidate carried that county (C - Coleman; F- Franken); it does not indicate for whom these ballots were cast.

Anoka (C), 1; Clay (C), 4; Crow Wing (C), 1; Dakota (C), 15; Faribault (C), 1; Goodhue (C), 1; Hennepin (F), 15 (Brooklyn Center, 1; Corcoran, 1; Edina, 1; Maple Grove, 2; Minneapolis, 8; Plymouth, 2); Koochiching (F), 1; McLeod (C), 3; Morrison (C), 1; Mower (F), 3; Olmsted (C), 15; Polk (C), 1; Pope (C), 1; Ramsey (F), 6; Steele (C), 1; Swift (F), 1; Washington (C), 14; Winona (F), 2; Wright (C), 1.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

The above quote is simply an excerpt contained within the current article, but the original posting featured only the above text, but with the "89" replaced with "88." The county list remained unchanged through this revision; in fact the current list still adds up to 88. was the first to report the "89" through an exchange between a Coleman attorney and a reporter during the afternoon press conference; the "89" reference occurs at about the 3:50 mark. While the provided the total count, they did not publish a county level listing. I have absolutely no idea why the Star Tribune amended their original figure, but I can, and will speculate.

One of following scenarios must have occurred within Star Tribune's internal mechanisms

1. They obtained the original listing provided by the Secretary of State's office but failed to adequately report the information contained therein. They literally would have to provide a link to a PDF, which isn't that difficult.

2. Or they may have received the information from a secondary source, perhaps one of the campaigns.

If we assume scenario (1) occurred, the the Star Tribune absolutely dropped the ball; but lets assume that the Star Tribune is capable of doing their job, which may not be a reasonable assumption, but stick with me. Onto scenario (2); if they did receive the list from some other source, why would they make the change to reflect "89" instead of their originally reported "88." It doesn't make any sense for them to change the count without changing the list. The only thing that changed was a Coleman attorney stating "89" in a press conference, after quoting a reporter's question. Ben Ginsberg, the Coleman attorney, would have had absolutely no way of knowing the exact number and likely just trusted the reporter in the moment. This then begs the question, why did the Star Tribune assign more weight to a Coleman Press Conference than they did their original source, whatever it was?

I am personally assigning more weight to the presence of a table than I am to the proceedings of this particular press conference. Its also entirely possible that the Star Tribune simply couldn't reproduce a 25 line table from a PDF, and in catching their error, they simply adjusted the total to "89," and ignored the error contained within the table. In any case, the Star Tribune's data is the only data currently available, and as such I'm going to assume that their original report of "88" is correct because that is what their table reads. If something changes tomorrow, I'll update this article.

I parsed the Star Tribune's table and created another table [PDF] complete with the final recounted votes from each county/municipality listed. I've also created a new map that depicts the origin of each successful registration search; the colorization and shading process is the same as yesterday with divisions of 5, and 10 votes:

Registration Search Result Minnesota Senate Litigation

I've also extrapolated the likely outcome from each of these "88" votes below, assuming all "88" are eventually counted:

                       Identified        Extrapolation
                         Voters       Coleman      Franken
Total                      88          37.01        36.37
    Coleman Counties       66          30.57        24.11
    Franken Counties       22           6.45        12.25

Extrapolations: PDF, 138 KB

Neither candidate is likely to gain any ground from these "88" ballots; in fact, if each of these ballots are included, Coleman is only expected to gain .65 votes. Moral of the story, Coleman will need more than these "88" votes to overcome the current 225 vote deficit; at least based upon the county/municipality trend.

The Star Tribune article also went on to talk about the Nauen 30, a group of thirty petitioner seeking to intervene into the Election Contest through the Minnesota Supreme Court. This group originally introduced their petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court on February 23rd. The MNSC then issued a ruling Monday afternoon pertaining to these thirty voters; the entire order is quoted below:

Based on petitioners' notice of withdrawal of their petition and upon all the files, records and proceedings herein,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the petition of Harold Shad, et al., under Minn. Stat. § 204B.44 be, and the same is, dismissed with prejudice.

Dated: March 9, 2009

Source: Order to Dismiss Petition by Certain Minnesota Voters to Have Their Votes Counted Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 204B.44 via

While these voters will not be allowed legal representation within the ECC proceedings, it is still possible for their votes to be counted by some other means. The result of this ruling was good news for Coleman as these 30 voters are widely assumed to have cast their ballots for Franken.

At the end of the day, the Coleman and Franken campaigns likely looked in the mirror and thought it was a good day, and sadly, the Star Tribune probably did the same.

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1 Response(s) to Secrecy Envelope Search Complete

Jules Goldstein
3/10/2009 6:32:21 AM CT

Ah, but if the number really is 89 and that one additional vote is for Coleman. then he more than doubles his net gain to 1.65! That of course presume no votes for lizard people.

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