Franken went from a 5-vote deficit to a 249-vote edge. Clearly most
of the ballots examined today were Coleman challenges, and most were
frivolous. There were also apparently some that were challenged by
Franken, though I was under the impression that all of those were
dealt with Wednesday and Thursday.
Monday they will be examining thousands of previously challenged
ballots where the challenge was withdrawn, but there were several
examined today that fell into that category, so I am not sure how the
ones reviewed today differed from the ones they will look at Monday.
Any review of previously challenged ballots should favor Franken
since it is pretty apparent by now that the vast majority of Coleman
challenges were frivolous. Franken withdrew more challenges than
Coleman did, but a lot of Franken challenges involved under votes or
over votes where he hoped to get credit for decisions that originally
did not go his way. He picked up about 50 votes that way on
Wednesday and Thursday.
I think it is reasonably safe to predict that Franken will emerge
from this phase of the recount ahead.
Still to be resolved is how to deal with about 150 duplicate ballots
that the Coleman camp is insisting may have been counted twice.
Duplicate ballots are only generated when the poll workers believe
that the original was not scanned due to a machine malfunction or
something of that ilk. Some of them may have been counted twice, but
certainly not enough to make a significant difference. Coleman is
simply looking for any excuse he can think of to delay and obfuscate
the process. In the end every precinct that has even a single
duplicate ballot will have to start over and again recount every
ballot by hand if Coleman prevails on this. In the meanwhile these
ballots have been excluded from the recount. The fact that the
Coleman people challenged one ballot solely because the voter wrote
on it "thank you for counting my vote" should tell you all you need
to know about how they are treating this process.
Finally the matter of the improperly rejected absentee ballots needs
to be addressed. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against the
Coleman motion that they not be counted, at least not during the
recount phase, but their ruling seems unnecessarily complex, and it
will further delay things. First both camps must examine every
envelope and must agree that it should be counted. Then they will be
counted, but as in phase one, both camps will be free to challenge
their call (one of the Supreme Court Judges dissented from this part
of the decision saying that the board should be the sole arbiter).
There may be as many as 1600 improperly rejected absentee ballots,
and the consensus seems to be that they are likely to favor Franken
because they come mostly from heavily Democratic precincts.
At this point the odds would seem to favor Franken, but this thing
may not be decided for weeks yet, and a court challenge is sure to
follow the final ruling. Franken is almost certain to prevail, but
one goal of the Coleman tactics seems to be to raise questions about
the legitimacy of a Franken win. I have to say that I am terribly
impressed by the transparency of the Minnesota process. The entire
thing has been live-streamed, and every ballot where there was the
slightest disagreement has been projected for all to see.