Absentee Ballot Battle Rages

On Wednesday, the Election Contest Court asked each campaign to "streamline" the absentee ballot process by categorizing the currently rejected ballots into 19 separate divisions; I briefly covered this topic in a previous article. Then on Thursday, the ECC held a hearing, beginning at 1 PM CT, regarding each campaign's submission with regard to the ECC's aforementioned Order Establishing Hearing on Motions. The ECC has not yet responded to Thursday's proceedings.

We'll start be focusing on Franken's submission, which was filed with the court on February 11th. The complete document totals 27 pages and references each of the 19 categories, as outlined by the Election Contest Court, within the Analysis section. I have excerpted the conclusion, in it's entirety below:


For the foregoing reasons, Contestee Franken respectfully requests the Court rule as a matter of law that certain ballots cannot be opened and, moreover, that in the absence of individualized evidence satisfying the statutory noncompliance bar, evidence is excluded if it relates only to ballots that cannot be counted (or in the case of missing registration, opened and checked).

Dated: February 11, 2009.

Source: Memorandum of Law in Support of Contestee Franken's Motion in Limine and Offer of Proof via MNCourts.gov [PDF]

Having read the complete document, the conclusion essentially reflects the tone and reasoning presented within the body. The Franken campaign never explicitly asks for any of the ballots contained within the 19 categories to be counted. Instead, their submission is littered with legal references and past precedences. The Franken campaign would ideally prefer to exclude each vote, from each of the 19 categories but they've realized that this result is probably unlawful and politically unfeasible; instead they've accepted the mantra of ensuring that only valid votes are counted.

The Coleman campaign has taken an entirely different approach in their submission filed on February 12th. I've posted the Coleman conclusion in it's entirety:


For the reasons set forth above and based on the evidence that has been and will be presented at trial, Contestants respectfully request that the Court order that previously rejected absentee ballots in all categories identified above (except Sections 3, 15 and 18) be opened and, subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State that these voters are registered and did not already cast a ballot that was counted in the 2008 general election, counted.

Dated: February 11, 2009

Source: Contestants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Acceptance by Category of Improperly Rejected Absentee Ballots via MNCourts.gov [PDF]

The Coleman campaign has essentially asked that 16 of the 19 categories be opened, verified and then subsequently counted. Their memorandum is also filed with legal references, but unlike the Franken submission, they state that each applicable category should be counted. Again, the conclusion of the Coleman memorandum is very representative of the document as a whole, without the numerous legal references.

The Election Contest Court will resume on Friday at 9 AM CT and adjourn early, probably around 12:30 PM CT. The court will then reconvene on Monday February 16th for a "Motion Day." On Monday, the campaigns will not be allowed to call witnesses, but they will be able to present motions and arguments for the ECC's consideration. I would then presume that the ECC would issue a series of rulings later that evening; depending on the direction of these proceedings, Monday could be decisive day for either campaign.

One other area of contention does however remain; the testimony of King Banian, an economic professor at St. Cloud State University. The Coleman campaign initially asked Professor Banian to present statistical evidence regarding potential, absentee ballot anomalies on January 27th; the Franken campaign then objected and the saga began. I initially covered this topic on Tuesday, but the issue runs much deeper than my brief synopsis. I intend to cover this scenario in much greater detail, while providing a statistical model of my own within the next few days.

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