Posts Tagged ‘recount’

Ann Coulter: Wrong on Minnesota

As Al Franken’s lead expands past 250 as of this writing, watch as Norm Coleman supporters begin downplaying the importance of the unofficial margin that they have been trumpeting for a month and a half now. Not an observation, but a prediction. You don’t need to source predictions.

I will source, however, the evidence against Ann Coulter’s claims made in her articles about the Minnesota Recount (12/15, 12/17). Specifically, she’s dubiously cited the following instances as evidence of vote fraud, when indeed it’s just shit that happens after elections: 100 mystery ballots in Mt. Iron, 133 missing Dinkytown ballots, 100 typo’d ballots, and 32 absentee ballots left in a car. None of these instances were vote fraud, and anyone who tells you that they are is lying or has something to sell.

Indeed, Coulter and her ilk are trying to sell you on the idea that any post-election fluctuations are unlikely, that recounts are dangerous because it only gives the Democrats a second chance to steal the election, and that Secretary of State Mark Richie has been bought and paid for by George Soros. But worst of all, she wishes you to believe that Minnesota’s electoral process is as corrupt as Illinois and as broken as Florida. For her to say any of this with a straight face, she’d have to be completely ignorant of the multipartisan State Canvassing Board that has been running the recount, of the armies of observers who watched every single vote get recounted, and of the fact that Minnesota has gone so far as to scan and publish online every single challenged ballot.

And you know what? She probably is.

The Lizard People: DENIED

At 9:38am today, the State Canvassing Board upheld Coleman’s challenge of the infamous “Lizard People” ballot, classifying it as an overvote and denying Franken the much-needed support of the Lizard People.

Now, this is a bad decision, and I’ll tell you why. The board didn’t even bother to look at the rest of the ballot, just looking at it on the projector, and thus did not see that this voter filled in “Lizard People” for every other race and also filled in the write-in bubble in those races. In the Senate Race, the voter wrote in Lizard People but did not fill in the bubble, instead filling in the bubble for Franken. This is obviously a statement, saying “Lizard People are a legitimate choice in all of the races, and although they win every other race, in a contest between Lizard People and Al Franken, Franken wins.” Mark Elias failed to make this argument, instead contending that Lizard People is obviously not a person, and thus it shouldn’t count. Bullshit. Note to Franken: Get a new lawyer.

Quotes from the discussion
“This is the weirdest ballot.” -Kathleen Gearin

“No, this is not the weirdest ballot.” -Eric Magnuson

“What if this was a vote for Moon Unit Zappa? You don’t know there ISN’T a Lizard People. You and I don’t. You don’t.” -Magnuson

“What did we do when Jesse Ventura was written in?” -Gearin

“He is a real person.” -Magnuson

“We know that Lizard can be a nickname. This could be a person. Lots of people have nicknames… Beaver… Chopper… you know.” -Coleman Lawyer

“If someone wants to make a statement with their vote, they may not get their vote counted.” -Gearin

Other Funny/Good Board Decisions
– A vote for the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a different race, which was challenged as an “identifying mark,” was allocated to Franken. This election has been touched by His Noodly Appendage. Obviously.
– Someone filled in the bubble for Franken, but then added “stein” after Al Franken’s name, thus making him “AL FRANKENSTEIN.” Coleman argued that the voter changed the name of the candidate, and thus was voting for another candidate. The State Canvassing Board did not buy this logic, and reallocated the vote to Franken.

Photos from the Recount

I was bored today, so I decided to go visit the Minneapolis Ballot Warehouse, where all ballots in the city are (slowly) being recounted. My goal was twofold – one, get as many photographs as possible so I could do a blog post for the Metblog. And two, to get a photograph of a challenged ballot for Wikipedia. Recently, I’ve been contributing to the bulk of the Wikipedia article on the Senate race, and the article would be infinitely sweetened by a few Creative Commons-licensed photographs. By the way, all of these photographs are Creative Commons-licensed, so feel free to steal them and post them as you will – just credit me for them.

Anyways, my trip was only a moderate success. I’ve gotten photographs, but none of them are very interesting. After asking her a few times, the Director of Elections for Minneapolis had refused to allow me access to the contested ballots “as an administrative decision,” meaning she didn’t damn well feel like it. So the only photos of contested ballots I could get were from afar, and even then, the election judges were covering up the parts of the ballot that had the Senate votes so as to foil me.

Your eyes do not deceive you, that is the ballot warehouse for Minneapolis, a monster of a building containing 10 teams of two election judges, one Franken representative, and one Coleman representative each. Not to mention the bulk of the warehouse being dedicated to housing a city’s worth of ballots, ballot transportation units, and ballot counting machines. On top of that, there are election officials, lawyers, observers, and media wandering around in the taped off zones in the center. Busy.

The recount was a fairly smooth endeavor, with election judges gliding through ballots that had been sorted by the machines, and verifying that they were indeed Franken or Coleman votes. Representatives from each campaign were watching intently – if a ballot looked questionable to them, they put it aside, and when the precinct was done, it would be brought over to the challenge table, where volunteers, lawyers, and election judges would duke it out.

The challenge table was made off limits to me and the only other media there today, KARE11 News. This table was usually crowded with volunteers who didn’t belong there, but were just interested to see how the challenges were going down. This was a quiet point where there were only the appropriate people there.

A challenged ballot. As I mentioned, judges were covering up the votes for Senate on contested ballots, but it’s easy to see how this voter may have screwed up. Come on, people, learn to read the instructions. To be fair, though, only 0.06% of all ballots are like this, so there isn’t an alarming number of stupid people in our state. Just enough to throw an election.

This is a bogus ballot being challenged by Franken. If you can see here, the mark for Coleman has been smudged. I’m not sure what the Franken representative might be thinking this could be – perhaps they were trying to smear the ink into Franken’s bubble? Probably not. This is an example of a ballot that will get denied its challenge by the Elections Director, who will be, as you will hear on KARE11 tonight, stopping all frivilous challenges from going up to the State Canvassing Board.

For more photos from the recount, feel free to visit my Flickr album.

Lizard People ’08

Lizard People

Lizard People!

Oh hey, the Lizard People. Of course! However, you don’t have to write them in, as they allegedly are already on the ballot. [via]

Keeping Up on the Senate Recount

Are you into the election equivalent of watching paint dry? The Senate recount is finally upon us and while everyone will be covering it, your best bet for the quickest non-stop coverage will be the local independent media that are all over it.

The UpTake will have live video and live-blogging of the recounting process on their front page, and you can follow along on Twitter by watching the hashtag “#mnrecount” or individual accounts: @theuptake, @chuckumentary. Of course, you can always show up in person to watch the recount, which is open to the media and the public. (If you really like The UpTake, you can hang out at their Fall Fundraiser on Friday! Disclosure: I ran around with them during the RNC.)

Recount On!

Today marks the first day of the infamous Senate recount, where election judges and campaign stooges will be going over, by hand, all 2.9 million votes in the US Senate race. According to Mark Richie’s website, they are not prepared to announce the final results of the recount until December 16, making this the last contest of 2008 (with Georgia’s runoff election on December 2 and Alaska no longer accepting absentee ballots as of today). This not only means that everyone and their dog are suddenly going to become interested in Minnesota, but everyone is suddenly going to become experts on Minnesota election law.

Take last Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal editorial. The Journal, using their vast, partisan brains, have deduced that since Norm Coleman’s lead has narrowed from 726 votes to 215 votes post-election, then obviously it’s because Al Franken has stolen the election. “This lopsided bleeding of Republican votes is passing strange considering that the official recount hasn’t even begun.” Never mind election judges have always gone over their figures post-election night and issued corrections thereafter. And never mind that Norm Coleman has actually gained 800 votes since election night, with Al Franken gaining 1,347, and Dean Barkley gaining 258. It’s not that Coleman lost votes – it’s that Franken has gained more.

I was listening to Dennis Prager on 100.3 last Sunday, as the only other thing on was a really attrocious DJ on the Current and A Prairie Home Companion on MPR. Prager was talking surprisingly fairly about the Minnesota recount, as he wasn’t accusing Franken of stealing votes and eating small children or anything. But he brought this alleged “expert” on Minnesota politics in on the show, who was asked “What does the Minnesota voter intent law mean?” He replied, “I don’t know.” Prager tried to prod him, and asked, “Well, does this mean that if you put an ‘X’ instead of filling in the bubble, that your vote will be counted?” He replied, “No.” Huh. Really?

For all of the experts who are being brought in to talk on Talk Radio about the recount, allow me to give you a little primer. First, Al Franken is not stealing votes, but is just getting more post-election corrections than Norm Coleman. Second, the Minnesota voter intent law means that an election judge and a representative from each party has to divine the intent of the voter, rather than establish whether they had filled in the ballot correctly. This means that if you put an “X” instead of filling in the bubble, then your vote is counted. If you circle your candidate’s name, then your vote is counted. If you scratch out every single other candidate’s name except for yours, then your vote is counted. If you draw a little picture if a man that looks like one of the three Senate candidates, then your vote is counted. Third, either representative from the respective campaigns can challenge a ballot, in which case it goes straight to the Minnesota Canvassing Board, where Richie and a technically bipartisan panel (there are no DFL appointed judges on the panel, only GOP and IP appointed judges) will make a final ruling on the ballot. Forth, once the recount is over, if it’s a tie, it comes down to a coin toss. No reelection: Minnesota state statute 204C.34 is very clear, the winner is determined by lot. Fifth, this is not Florida. Stop calling us that.

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