A-Counting They Will Go
I think everybody expected far less ballots to be involved, but today the Minnesota will begin to count about 950 of them in the never-ending recount of the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. Incredibly, the two sides agreed on the counting standard for those absentee ballots which were wrongly rejected.
The process set up by the state Supreme Court seemed ripe for abuse, because it required both campaigns to sign off on counting any one sealed ballot envelope. The camps ended up approving quite a lot of ballots in what seemed like a chaotic process over this week. The Coleman campaign did manage to throw another wild card in, though: They're going to court to try to force the inclusion of about 650 ballots that the local officials have rejected, and which seem to be stacked their way.
In a very good sign for Al Franken, 255 absentees were sent out from heavily-Democratic Hennepin County (Minneapolis) alone, and the number of vetoes from the two campaigns were nearly tied there. So expect this particular load of votes to break for Franken, with the remaining question being how the ballots from all the other places work out.
I would think that it's very unpredictable, and it's to the credit of the Franken camp, being in the lead, that they stuck with the principle of counting every eligible vote instead of the more politically safe choice of holding onto the lead. Coleman, of course, is cherry-picking ballots, and the Supreme Court will rule on their eligibility today.
As state officials prepare to count 953 disputed absentee ballots Saturday, the court is expected to decide soon whether to instead open the door to a new centralized review of about 2,000 such ballots, as requested by Sen. Norm Coleman -- or at least order the review of hundreds of additional ballots identified by the Coleman and Al Franken campaigns.
If the court refuses the Coleman request, an attorney for the GOP senator said Friday, he would likely lose the recount and immediately move to legally contest the state Canvassing Board's certification of final results.
At that point, the Senate has a choice. Democrats, who are ready to bar the door for Roland Burris, could force the seating of Franken, subject to filibuster, or they could do nothing and let the legal process play out for weeks while Minnesota has only one Senator. Since recent history shows that Senate Democrats only fight when blocking other Democrats is at stake, I'm expecting the latter.