Coleman quagmire


by Jeff Fecke | February 18, 2009 • One of the benefits of my little vacation from blogging was that I got to ignore the Coleman/Franken trial. Which is nice, because having ignored it for a week or two, I can just drop back in and see that nothing much has changed. Or has it?

Okay, the trial is still dragging on and on and on and on and on, which is, of course, by design. But slowly and surely, the universe of ballots that Norm Coleman has access to is getting whittled away, with most of the damage done last Friday, when the three-judge panel rejected 13 of 19 categories of absentee ballots for counting, and laid out limits on the remaining ballots that place the onus squarely on the Coleman camp to prove a ballot was wrongfully rejected.

The Coleman campaign argues that due to lax standards by someone, somewhere, some absentee ballots that should have been rejected were counted, and therefore all absentee ballots should be counted. It seems to me that this is pretty much like arguing that because O.J. Simpson got away with murder that the U.S. should be a free-fire zone, but hey, I’m not an attorney.

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

Anyhow, the Coleman campaign filed a request on Monday for the court to reconsider their decision, since it had been three days and the judges had a long weekend; this led to an extremely terse rejection of the request, which pretty much says by its very brevity what the judges are thinking of Coleman’s attorneys right now.

Of course, Coleman’s attorneys aren’t playing for this court; they’ve given up winning the count. Really, how else can you read today’s statement by Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg?

This fatal inconsistency serves to disenfranchise some voters while allowing others with the same ballots to have their votes counted. The judges will need to certify at the conclusion of the trial the number of “legally cast ballots” in the U.S. Senate election for each candidate. However, their ruling, as well as testimony in the trial, shows that they cannot do this as a matter of law since illegally cast ballots under their definition are included in the counts.

The net effect of the court’s February 13th ruling, and their decision today to not reconsider this ruling, is a legal quagmire that makes ascertaining a final, legitimate result to this election even more difficult.

Translation? Screw Minnesota. We’re taking this to the Supreme Court, where they’ll totally ignore the fact that they said Bush v. Gore wasn’t binding precedent, and they’ll treat it as binding precedent.

Of course, that’s a Hail Mary combined with a buzzer three and a shorthanded goal with no time left on the clock, times a million. The odds are extremely high that the U.S. Supreme Court will simply refuse to hear the case, since the Senate is supposed to judge Senate elections. And even if the Supreme Court takes the case, the fact is that Bush v. Gore was decided, sort of, based on the fact that Florida had no clear standards for ballot counting.

Minnesota does. And those clear standards have shown that Al Franken won a very narrow victory. Rerun the election a thousand times, and Franken would only have won 500 of ‘em; this election was very close to a tie. But you can’t rerun the election, not unless things are clearly and obviously fraudulent, and sorry, Norm, they weren’t. There will be loose threads and a few unanswered questions, but there would have been if the numbers were reversed; the Minnesota race was run as well as can be humanly expected.

All Norm can do at this point is try to overturn the outcome of the election, and either force a do-over or get the Supreme Court to ignore everything and declare him the winner. At this point, both would be miscarriages of justice.