When McCain said he was confident that he would win with a surge in the wee hours of November 5th during the final counting was there more truth in this statement than he was letting on? Two weeks ago, former Bush operative Karl Rove was confidently saying that John McCain could win ten battleground states to become President. Monday, the day before the election, Republican IT specialist Mike Connell, a Karl Rove protégé, was forced to testify in front of a Cleveland federal judge about a number of serious allegations with regards to hijacking vote results in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. Interestingly, Karl Rove changed his tune after the testimony and said on the eve of the election that Barack Obama would win in a landslide.
Could cyber-attacks and manipulation of transmitted vote tallies still have occurred in Minnesota - like what was described during Mike Connell's testimony the day before - altering vote tallies in the Presidential and Senate elections as they were tabulated throughout the early morning hours of November 5th? Of course the Presidential election turned out to be a landslide and so attempts at fraud would have been overwhelmed by the lopsided victory for Barack Obama. However, the Senate race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken was always expected to be very close. And these expectations did not disappoint. A neck and neck running vote tally occurred throughout the night with numerous lead changes and by Wednesday morning Norm Coleman had a slight lead of 762 votes in the uncertified results. This lead was however well within the guidelines of Minnesota election law dictating a recount by hand of the paper ballots if the final difference between candidates is within 0.5% of the total votes cast. In this case a 762 vote difference out of 2.9 million votes cast was a difference of only 0.01%, well within the designated 0.5% that would trigger an automatic recount.
In the meantime the two competing campaigns have begun firing accusations at each other. One of the more serious accusations involves a Norm Coleman staffer that acted as a Somali translator on election day and at one point a GOP challenger and was accused of trying to illegally influence Somali voters at the polling place to cast votes for Norm Coleman. A very serious allegation if proven true.
Saturday lawyers representing Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign lost a legal battle trying to suppress the opening and counting of 32 absentee ballots. A Ramsey County judge denied Coleman's request. Those ballots were opened and counted on Saturday afternoon and the results were expected to be delivered to the state on Monday.
An Associated Press story over the weekend discovered there were as many as 25,000 "undervotes" where voters picked a President but apparently did not vote in the Senate race and many of these "undervotes" occurred in heavily democratic voting precincts. While some of these "undervotes" are expected to occur, especially in a bitter mud-slinging contest such as the Franken – Coleman race, it is also possible that many other ballots might have been incorrectly marked or were misread by the optical scanning machines. These are ballots that are expected to be discovered during a manual hand recount. It has also been reported that the error rate for the optical scanning machines can be as high as 2 ballots missed for every 1000 counted. This could mean an additional 6000 uncounted ballots could be discovered and counted during the hand recount.
It is not immediately clear how or why a vote tally for only one candidate could decrease relative to an increase seen by the other candidate. Keep in mind that these were vote total results that were found recorded on various websites across the internet. Most of the numbers were verified in duplicate from different sources. The times indicated were normalized for Central Standard time and are as accurate as is possible for this type of data collection. Also keep in mind that the logging of vote tallies by media outlets and the Secretary of State website most likely included many more timepoints throughout the night than what we were able to find recorded by citizen bloggers. Nevertheless, the large subtraction of almost 10,000 votes from Al Franken's tally did not go unnoticed on the blogosphere.
A number of interesting posts were also found during this data collection:
A blogger made the following post at 4:03 am:
"Both the MN sec. state and CNN have 98% in BUT:
Franken 1,188,975- Advertisement -
Franken is missing almost 10,000 votes!"