MN Recount Updates 12/12/08: Big Breaks for Franken


Franken Gets Big Win At Canvass Board

By Eric Kleefeld - December 12, 2008, 11:48AM

Al Franken's chances of winning the Minnesota recount may have just gone up astronomically.

The state canvassing board just voted unanimously that absentee ballots that were initially rejected because of clerical errors -- and the current estimate from the hearing is that there could be nearly 1,600 of them, based on some extrapolation -- should be counted, probably the single biggest issue that the Franken campaign has been hammering ever since this recount began, and which really seemed up in the air going into this hearing.

The board can't directly order the county officials to do the counting, only making a formal request to go back and count the votes and then submit amended totals. But many counties have already begun or finished the process of sorting the rejected absentees at the board's request, and board members did castigate any election officials who wouldn't do so, with some of them even leaving open the option of seeking a court order if necessary.

Because of all that, it seems very likely that the vast majority of these ballots will be counted before this is over -- and it could possibly seal the deal for Franken. Pre-election polling showed him winning the overall pool of absentee ballots by a solid margin, so it seems pretty reasonable to assume that the newly-counted votes will break for Al. If that proves to be correct -- and if Norm Coleman is unable to stop it through further litigation -- Franken will probably pull ahead of Coleman and win the election.

Late Update: Just to clarify, this was a separate question from the missing Minneapolis ballots, which they ruled on earlier and we posted on below. The board took on two crucial issues this morning, and on both of them ruled in favor of the Franken camp's position.

6-minute video by the Franken campaign on improperly rejected absentee ballots



In Boost To Franken, Minnesota Restores Missing Ballots To The Count

By Eric Kleefeld - December 12, 2008, 11:13AM

Some good news for Al Franken: The state canvasing board just voted unanimously to compensate for the loss of those 133 missing ballots in Minneapolis by going back to the recorded Election Night vote totals for this precinct, sparing Al the loss of a net 46 votes.

This means Franken has survived a major threat, as his campaign's calculations of how the race would go ultimately depended on the ballots being found or compensated for.

The Coleman campaign had been arguing against this move, on the grounds that the state can't count ballots that no longer seem to exist -- they were believed to be in a ballot marked "1 of 5," but can no longer be found -- while the Franken camp said that to do otherwise would be to disenfranchise the 133 people who had the poor luck of having their ballots end up in a lost envelope.

The board, made up of a mixture of Republicans, Democrats and independents, has sided with Franken on this one.

More to come.

Late Update: To be clear, we're watching the hearing over here on a streaming video feed.

Late Late Update: State Atty. Gen. Lori Swanson (D) just gave her advisory opinion on another very big issue, whether absentee ballots that appear to have been improperly rejected should be put back in the count. Swanson told the board that they have the authority to request (but not order) that counties meet again to count those ballots. If the board sides with Swanson, this could be a huge boost to Franken, as he had a good-sized lead among the overall absentee ballots, and introducing new votes into the count would probably net him some more in the total.