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Here's what happened on the first day of the Minnesota Senate race recount.  Al Franken's lawsuit to gain access to rejected absentee ballots was granted.  There was another tempest in a teacup, a dust-up at the Ramsey County recount caused by a Republican activist.  Most importantly, the recount began.

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If we can stay at a pace of 15% per day, we're done in early December.  However, the bigger counties of Hennepin and Ramsey will be recounting for a long time and the rural counties will finish sooner.  Almost half the state lives in these two Twin Cities counties.  Once the rural counties are done, our rate will slow down.

The importance of Ramsey County Judge Dale B. Lindman's ruling is that this may uncover many uncounted Franken votes.  Ramsey County knows Norm and voted overwhelmingly for Al.  We don't yet know how many ballots were rejected in Ramsey County nor do we know if the Franken campaign will try to see Hennepin and St. Louis counties' rejected absentee ballots.

As to the ruling's implications for Franken's case before the State Canvassing Board, Lindman wrote: "With each passing hour, the Franken Campaign is irreparably harmed in its efforts to ensure that each valid vote is properly counted and to prepare for the procedures that will decide this election."

Franken recount lawyer Marc Elias said in a post-decision briefing that Lindman's opinion "is helpful to us" in relation to the Canvassing Board.

For his part, Coleman attorney Fritz Knaak wasn’t reeling from the decision. He said Wednesday afternoon that he and the Coleman campaign are focused on the recount and reported it was going “exceptionally well.”

Knaak called the Data Practices case and Lindman ruling a “side issue” and “not of any particular relevance to the count itself.”

But, clearly Elias will use Lindman’s opinion to urge the State Canvassing Board to allow rejected absentee ballots to be part of the count. That would run counter to an opinion offered earlier this week by the Minnesota attorney general’s office, but Lindman’s words – “irreparable harm” -- are sure to be heard over and over again.

Check out the ruling here.

At a Ramsey County recount location, a Republican activist, Bob Murray, was challenging far too many ballots for County Elections Director Joe Mansky's liking.  On the AM950's Mark Heaney Radio Show, Mike McIntee of The Uptake said that Mansky told the Murray to quit making frivolous challenges and when the activist objected was told (and I'm paraphrasing) "this isn't a campaign, you can't do that and if you've got a problem with it, sue me."

One dustup came when Coleman observer Bob Murray questioned Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky on all the people jamming in the room as well as how ballot stacks were being counted. When Murray challenged a handful of ballots in which voters appeared to mark Franken clearly, Mansky said they were frivolous challenges, something state law prohibits.

“If you want to deal with it, take me to court,” Mansky said.
(Star Tribune)

Grace Kelly, who was there all day, said that Murray got louder and louder each time he didn't get his way.  Mansky stayed calm the entire time.  McIntee commented that Murray later apologized.  I"ll post the video from the Uptake once they post it.  Noah Kunin had this comment on the Strib's article:

The quote from Mansky is slightly inaccurate as posted here. Consultation of video from the incident produces the following exact quote:

MANSKY: If you want to deal with them, you can take my determination to court.
Slightly more politic, I’d say…

Noah Kunin
Senior Political Correspondent

Originally posted to The Big E on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:03 PM PST.

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