It's (almost) all over, but for 1,600 (uncounted) ballots and one (likely) court case in MN's U.S. Senate seat...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2008, 4:08pm PT  

One last update before the two Jews running for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota stop to celebrate Christmas.

It's almost all over but the court case, and even that, if it happens, doesn't seem to have much left to stand on. In summary then, here's where we now are in the extraordinarily close U.S. Senate hand-count in MN...

All of the 6,000 or so ballots challenged by both sides have now been determined, one way or another, by the bi-partisan state canvassing board. With those added to the totals as of Christmas Eve, challenger Al Franken (D) now leads Sen. Norm Coleman (R) by an astounding 47 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

Coleman had gone to the MN Supreme Court in hopes they would force the state canvassing board to consider his request to toss out the results from 150 or so ballots which he had claimed, without any actual evidence, had been counted twice. Those were ballots, largely from Franken-leaning counties, were "remade" by county officials after they couldn't be read by the op-scanners originally (e.g., they had been creased when mailed in, etc.). The originals are supposed to stay with the remade versions, but in some cases, the originals got lost, and Coleman claimed --- again without any actual evidence --- that therefore they may have been double-counted.

Today, the Supremes rejected Coleman's request, finding that the matter should be decided in a separate court case, where evidence could be presented, rather than by the state canvassing board. The finding is a huge blow to the Coleman camp, as those 150 ballots will now remain as part of the final count, though Coleman could still file a case later to try and have them rejected.

Coleman's attorney, Fritz Knaak, has just issued a statement saying the decision "virtually guarantees that this will be decided in an election contest."

The findings from such a future case, however, filed after the recount results are certified --- and after the media reportage, which is often all that matters (see FL 2000's Bush v. Gore) --- announcing Franken as the winner, would be a tough road for Coleman to overcome.

That leaves, then, just the 1,600 or so absentee ballots which were improperly rejected previously, which have remained sealed and uncounted up until now. The Supreme Court has extended the deadline for counties to get those ballots to St. Paul for unsealing and counting, until Jan. 2nd. They must be counted by Jan 4th, and can be challenged (as the 6,000 other ballots were previously), on Jan 5th, when the state canvassing board convenes again.

Congress is to be sworn in on Jan 6th, so it's become increasingly likely that MN may not know who their Senator will be for certain by then, unless all is miraculously agreed upon, and certfication occurs on Jan 5th., and Coleman decides not to file an election contest.

With Franken's lead at just 47 votes, all would seem to hinge on those final 1,600 uncounted absentee ballots. As absentees had previously favored Franken, odds are that he'll increase his final total. But those are just "odds." Anything can happen, as nobody knows what votes remain in those still-sealed, improperly rejected absentee ballots, and this race has seen its fair share of twists and turns up until now!

The Finish Line is in Sight...

Josh Marshall observes that "Norm Coleman is starting to acclimate himself to the water..."

"I feel fairly confident. In the end, the good Lord's going to decide," Coleman told the local Fox affiliate. "The numbers look good to us. Certainly there's uncertainty. I'm not worried about it. I've done everything I can do. I'm not really agonizing about the outcome."

Coleman went on: "Life goes on, regardless of what your job is. I certainly love what I do. If I can keep doing it, I'll be thrilled, and if not, I'm sure we'll do something else."

That's good, because the Republican National Lawyers Liars Association (where lying GOP vote-fraudster Thor Hearne is the reigning fraudster-in-chief) is freaking out, and retreading their panicked, last-minute lies about a stolen election in MN, as Sam Stein reports at HuffPo:

In an "urgent message" to supporters, the Republican National Lawyer Association accuses Franken and his "liberal allies" of "working feverishingly [sic] to steal the Minnesota Senate election."

The rest of their latest missive is actually quite hilarious, and we highly recommend checking it out for some late Xmas cheer!

Finally, kudos are due, no matter the outcome of this election, to MN Sec. of State Mark Ritchie who has run an orderly, fully transparent, and meticulous hand-count process which put accuracy and transparency above all.

After the Franken and Coleman campaigns were able to strike a deal on how to go about counting those last 1,600 ballots today, and with the possibility of MN not having one of their Senators seated in time for the convening of the new session of Congress, Ritchie is quoted as saying:

"We've been really clear in saying our top priority is accuracy and transparency and the timing thing is just not our issue," [Secretary of State Mark] Ritchie said. "I want to put an underline, we don't care as long as it's accurate and we've done it in an accurate and transparent way. We don't care when it's done."

Neither do we, Mr. Ritchie. Thanks for taking the time to ensure that every vote possible is counted accurately, as per the voters' intent, and in a way that the entire state and country can finally have confidence in, once it's all said and done...whenever that may be...

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