Litigation, Day 2

The second day of Coleman's Election Contest was supposed to begin at 9 AM CT; as you can see below, that simply did not happen:

9:12 AM CT: Nothing has happened yet, but I did snag a picture of the binder containing Exhibits C1 and C2. I don't know If all twelve binders make up the Exhibits, or if the binders are just stockpiled for later distribution. There was also a box that appeared to contain ballots, its impossible to know at this point, but it did resemble previous boxes used for storing ballots.

Litigation Issue 2

9:23 AM CT: Nothing has happened yet, I don't know if there is a delay or if the court simply wasn't scheduled to begin yet. Apparently the start of proceedings is delayed, possibly until 10:00 AM CT.

10:17 AM CT: The proceedings have been delayed; the judges are in a private meeting. A time for resumption has not been specified. Gary Poser, the Deputy Secretary of State, was just spotted in the Judicial Center.

12:37 AM CT: The trial will apparently resume at 1:00 PM CT; which just so happens to be the exact same time as when I need to leave.

2:35 PM CT: The Coleman campaign is calling a series of witness whose absentee ballots were rejected. Douglas Thompson took the stand at this time. "Is this your signature on the absentee ballot envelope" Yes. Is this your signature on the absentee ballot application. No. It appears as though the Franken attorney established probable cause for rejection of Douglas ' absentee ballot envelope.

2:38 PM CT: Jim Gelbmann, Dep. Sec. of State. will now take the stand. He worked for Sen. Mark Dayton (D).

2:41 PM CT: I don't know where they are going with this witness, and I don't have time to find out; more later.

7:41 PM CT: I'll have a more thorough update later tonight, or tomorrow morning.

Summary [11:43 PM CT]: When the court finally resumed, Judge Denise Reilly explained the circumstances behind the delay:

[The] Secretary of State's Office, the AGs, the attorney for the petitioner, as well as the three of us and our law clerks meet for almost all morning trying to work out the logistics of how to get the best evidence to this courtroom so that we can make the findings of fact that we need to make. We also understand that the municipalities and the 87 counties that are holding these original documents are under stress and strain for budgetary reasons and that's why we want to see if there is someway for us to streamline the process. Having said that, Mr. Friedberg [Coleman Attorney] had Ms. Sonnen on the stand yesterday when we ended.

Source: via Mogulus

The proceedings began, and six, civilian witnesses were called throughout the day's proceedings; their pictures are below:

Witnesses Day 2

Mr. Friedberg stared by asking that Ms. Sonnen's testimony (from yesterday) be stricken from the record and the court moved forward with a slight objection from Marc Elias; I believe Elias wanted to question Ms. Sonnen, but she was not present. Coleman Attorney, Mr. Langdon, then proceeded by calling a new witness; Gerald Walter Anderson [1] a voter whose absentee ballot was not counted. Gerald Anderson first voted in "1952 for Eisenhower;" he is blind and is 75 years of age.

Mr. Anderson mentioned repeated a similar refrain through his testimony; "my vote was not counted in America." The Coleman campaign seemed to be appealing for empathy, but they make an interesting case. They appear to be arguing that his vote should count because he says he signed his absentee ballot properly. Upon cross examination Mr. Anderson failed to recall when he signed his affidavit, he stated "Friday," but the affidavit was dated January 20th. Mr. Anderson was then allowed to leave.

Eugene Carl Markmen [2] was then called to the stand by Mr. Langdon. He lives in Sterns County and voted by absentee because he was an election judge. He has voted absentee before. As an election judge he stated that his ballot was likely rejected "because the 'n' on the end of my name is not got two humps in it, it has one hump and a line that goes straight down." In the cross examination, Mr. Marken stated that he was asked to intervene in the lawsuit by Publica. Mr. Markmen stepped down.

Kevin Hendrickson [3] was then called as the next witness, but before he could take the stand the Franken campaign objected because "this individual was not on the list." The court allowed the witness, but will take the objection under advisement. Mr. Hendrickson is from Zimmerman and was eligible to vote in the past two elections; he stated that he "voted in the past two." The Coleman campaign basically established that Mr. Hendrickson does not know why his vote was not counted. Mr. Hamiltion, of the Franken campaign, then tried to deduce what the witness "does not know," by asking him who rejected his ballot; Mr. Hendrickson confirmed that he did not know.

The next witness was Wesley A. Briest [4]. The Coleman attorney began by asking Mr. Briest how he voted. Mr. Briest responded by saying that he "went to the voting place and voted, not by absentee." He was however called to the stand because he voted absentee, the Coleman lawyer corrected his previous assertion by providing a document of his absentee ballot envelope. Mr. Briest then asserted that he had voted absentee.

During the cross examination, Franken's representation suggested that Mr. Briest may have voted in person on election day as well as by absentee; Mr. Briest denied this assertion and affirmed his earlier claim that he had voted by absentee only. The Franken Attorney then asked Mr. Briest to observe that the address box for a "non-notary witness" was not filled in on the absentee ballot envelope; Mr. Briest then acknowledged that the form was not completed. The Coleman campaign responded by asking where his wife lived and Mr. Briest replied "with me at the same address." The Franken side then argued that this fact was not stated anywhere on the envelope. Mr. Briest was excused.

Mijanou Rodriguez Sampers [5] was the next witness; she resides in Rosemount and is a registered voter who cast an absentee ballot in the November 4th election. Mr. Langdon essentially confirmed that Ms. Sampers could identify her own signature on her own absentee ballot. Mr. Hamilton then lead the cross examination; he preceeded in a manner very congruent with his cross examination of Mr. Hendrickson. Mr. Hamilton then learned that the Republican Party contacted Ms. Sampers and alerted told her that her ballot was rejected; the Republican party contacted the previous 4 witness as well. Mr. Langdon concluded by establishing that Ms. Sampers did request an absentee ballot. She had not been shown her absentee ballot request form. She was then allowed to step down.

And the final civilian witness brought forth by the Coleman campaign; Douglas Thompson [6]. His girlfriend, "of 20 years" filled out his absentee ballot request form. The Coleman campaign then asserted, with Mr. Thompson's assistance, that he had filled out the actual absentee ballot himself. The Republican Party contacted Mr. Thompson as well, informing him that his ballot was not counted. The witness believes that his vote was not counted because his girlfriend signed his name on the request form, and he signed his own name on the actual ballot. Witness dismissed.

The common theme amongst all Coleman witnesses seems to center around the voter's claim of wrongful rejection, not necessarily the legal claim regarding the rejection. Both campaign's attorney's were very polite to the witness throughout the day's events.

Jim Gelbmann, Dep. Sec. of State. was then called to the witness stand to testify. The Coleman campaign essentially asked Jim Gelbmann to define the process by which wrongfully rejected absentee ballots. were counted. The Coleman campaign was attempting to show that these ballots were not treated equally by each of Minnesota's 87 counties; this discrepancy would violate equal protection. David Lillehaug of the Franken campaign then began the first wave of the cross examination. It was learned that Jim Gelbmann was put forth by the Secretary of State's office in response to a subpoena request by the Coleman campaign.

Mr. Gelbmann's testimony lasted for about an hour and a half; during that time a recess was ordered. After the recess, Mr. Gelbmann went through a series of technical details associated with ballot counting law. He gave specific scenarios related to the requested situations. At the end of the day Mr. Gelbmann essentially stated that any errors in the counting of wrongfully rejected absentee ballots would have to be addressed by the election worker who dealt with that specific ballot. He also went on to state that the head election official, for each county, would have adequate knowledge regarding the roughly 1,400 absentee ballots that were presented by the counties, but lower level election workers would have to be consulted for ballots outside of that subset. Mr. Gelbmann asserted that "each [ballot] has a story behind it."

Mr. Gelbmann then spent the last thirty minutes addressing specific situations for accepting and rejecting absentee ballots in various counties, and the various processes used by these counties. The witness was then dismissed, for the day. The Franken campaign then objected to the replacement of sum 500 names to the Coleman campaign's list of 5,000 voters whose absentee ballots were rejected. The Coleman campaign said they were unaware of the situation and would look into it. The Franken campaign stated that this discrepancy was not random.

A backroom meeting was then commissioned, and the court adjourned until 9 AM CT tomorrow.

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1 Response(s) to Litigation, Day 2

1/28/2009 2:47:45 AM CT

I desperately hope you can continue your reports, which are vastly superior to anything I am finding in the MN press, including "alternatives" such as MN-Indy and MinnPost (obviously the Strib is nearly worthless). --I first saw your article on dKos. Thank you for posting it!

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