With the Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman possibly going into “double overtime,” we may not be put out of our recount-overload misery anytime soon. Here’s a rundown of recent goings-on, including a deadline for the search for missing ballots in a Minneapolis precinct, the prospect of the Senate deciding the race, hue and cry over Franken’s so-called “church invasion” and — gulp — the possible pricetag.
How much time is “as much time as you need”? Today’s the deadline for the statewide recount to wrap up, but the game extender will likely be an envelope marked “1/5,” one of five envelopes containing ballots from University Lutheran Church of Hope, the polling place for Minneapolis’ Ward 3, Precinct 1. They’ve gone missing, leaving 133 ballots unaccounted for. (Coleman’s campaign released a statement yesterday stating, “We do not know that there are any ballots missing, and it is premature and simply irresponsible to suggest that they are.”) The Secretary of State’s office has granted a request by Minneapolis officials to keep looking, stating that they could “take as much time as they need.” Technically, that means Dec. 16, when the State Canvassing Board starts looking at the nearly 6,000 ballots challenged by both campaigns.
Hi, Dudgeon: In a press release reprinted in its “awesome” entirety at MNPublius, the GOP decries the search of the church. Entitled “Franken Campaign Calls For Government Invasion Of A Church!,” it references the Franken campaign’s call for “a systematic forensic search of the church that served as a polling place.”
“Today’s demand […] is both offensive and completely out-of-control. At what point does the Franken campaign simply conduct itself in this recount with some semblance of dignity? Demanding that the government invade a place of worship—and require taxpayers to foot the bill for that invasion—is bizarre and repulsive.”
Minneapolis election director Cindy Reichert suspects the missing envelope is at the city-owned warehouse two miles away, where ballots were delivered Nov. 5; she doesn’t think they’re in the church.
A supermajority in 2010? The Democrats won’t get their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, but the Washington Post looks at the future — and personal — stakes in this election’s outcome:
A Franken win would give the Democrats 59 seats in the Senate, setting them up for another run at a filibuster-proof 60 in 2010. Coleman lost an embarrassing gubernatorial race to former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura a decade ago, and another loss to an inexperienced celebrity-turned-politician would embarrass Republicans in an already miserable year.
If the Senate decides this: The New York Observer looks back to 1975 as a primer on how the Senate, charged by the Constitution with being “the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members,” might end up resolving the election. After two recounts in the New Hampshire Senate race came up with different results, writes Steve Kornacki, the Senate’s process that “played out wasn’t nearly as quick, orderly or predictable as [Democrats] thought it would be, an example that could serve as a cautionary note if the current Minnesota race does land in the Senate.”
The pricetag: When all is said and done, what is this all gonna cost? It’ll likely cost the candidates, who raked in a combined $4 million in donations since election day, more than taxpayers. The Hill says the Secretary of State’s estimate of three cents per ballot — or a total pricetag of just shy of $90,000 — is probably correct. But the GOP’s Ron Carey tells the Washington-based publication that the recount will cost the campaigns and parties “several million dollars, depending on litigation.” The last big recount, Washington state’s 2004 governor’s race, set Democrats back a cool $6 mil.