The Coleman-Franken recount state machinery is gearing up. Both sides are lining up lawyers for each of the 100+ recount sites (87 counties + multiple sites in larger cities.)
Secretary of State is Mark Ritchie, a Democrat elected in 2006. He's taking heat from the usual suspects (the Kathleen Harris/ Ken Blackwell branch of American politics) but seems to be doing everything possible to be even-handed. The Coleman camp is miffed by this while the Frankenites (now there's a moniker!) are mostly keeping a Zen-like quiet.
Some process particulars as you drop your Orange ballot below the fold.
Precincts and counties has been "certifying" their votes since Nov. 4: adding in absentee ballots, checking & correcting for math errors. During each day both candidates' numbers have moved up and down but the net has drifted toward Al Franken, from a Coleman lead of 775 to this morning's 206.
This morning's Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a story by Patricia Lopez for upcoming events.
- On Nov. 19 Sec. of State Ritchie will "certify" the results from across the state (that the count is as corrected as can be so far.) This will certify that the difference between Coleman & Franken is less than 0.5% of the total votes cast, triggering an automatic, state-paid recount of all ballots. (Cost estimated= $86,000).
- County election boards, watched by observers & lawyers from each campaign, will recount each paper ballot (and they are all paper) by hand, including absentees.
- Any ballot in dispute where there is some question of the voter's intent will be set aside and sent to the state Canvassing Board.
By Dec. 16, Ritchie said, the Canvassing Board -- which also includes Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, Ramsey County District Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin and Ramsey Assistant Chief Judge Edward Cleary -- will start ruling on challenged ballots one by one, in favor of either Republican Sen. Norm Coleman or Democratic challenger Al Franken. Votes for other candidates will not be included in the recount, and ballots where no voter intent can be determined will be set aside.
Ritchie said that, however long it takes, the recount will not be rushed. Whatever is produced, he said, has to be "absolutely, exactly correct."
- State Canvassing board, named by Ritchie:
a) Eric Magnuson, Chief Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court.
Appointed June, 2008 by Gov. Pawlenty. Former head of Pawlenty's judicial appointment advisory board.
b) G. Barry Anderson, Associate Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court. Appointed October, 2004 by Pawlenty. Prior: Minnesota Court of Appeals (appointed 1998 by Gov. Arne Carlson (R-normal/moderate). In 2006, state GOP endorsed him for election to bench and Anderson rejected the honor, saying "partisan political endorsements are neither appropriate nor helpful in maintaining an impartial judiciary."
c) Kathleen Gearin, Chief Judge, Ramsey County. (Ramsey county is city of St. Paul, state capitol). First elected 1986.
Prior: 11 years as a county prosecutor, 4 years social studies teacher.
(Coleman campaign filed suit in her court on Saturday to block counting of 32 absentee ballots in Hennepin County (Minneapolis). Gearin dismissed suit in 6 hours, stating she did not have jurisdiction. Oddly enough, Coleman campaign has NOT re-filed in a Hennepin County court so far this week.)
d) Edward Cleary, Assistant Chief Judge, Ramsey County. Appointed 2002 by Gov. Ventura (Indep.--very independent). Prior: director, 5 years, state Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. Public defender and private practice for 20 years.
e) Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State, Minnesota. Chief elections officer.
Standard will be "voter intent," Voter should fill in the dot (so machine can read.) Instead, did voter put an X on the dot? Circle the candidate's name? Cross out candidate they did NOT want? If intent can be determined (at county level or by State Board) vote will be counted. Otherwise it will be set aside.
- Finally: absentee ballots.
"One thing that won't change the Minnesota recount is any dispute over rejected absentee ballots. (Emphasis added) Ritchie said Wednesday that the Franken campaign's request last week to have 461 such ballots counted in Heenepin county can be resolved only in court, not by recount officials."
Sooo.......there still might be lawsuits (unless the trailing candidate choses to "step back"---right Norm?)
Wait & see everybody, but this is the latest.
UPDATE 1: By request, to contribute to Al Franken's legal fees to lawyers to watch over the re-count the link is:https://secure.alfranken.com/...