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I went through the first 2702 ballots available from Minnesota Public Radio and found something very interesting.

In Minneapolis 112 ballots for Franken are being challenged because of duplication errors compared to only 12 Coleman ballots. These are ballots that may have been mishandled by election workers.

I've included lots of images and some analysis below.

Al Franken has a great chance of making up the 192 vote differential the Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting, but Hennepin County's decision to stop looking for the 133 ballots they have been searching for during the last week will make the effort a lot harder.

Since I don't have a life and love doing repetitive tasks I have examined and sorted the first 2702 ballots available through Minnesota public radio.

I tried my best to follow the guidelines for determining voter intent provided by the Minnesota Secretary of State.

Most of the challenges were frivolous and my analysis showed 2009 of the 2686 would be dismissed (1010 Coleman challenges split 912 Franken votes and 98 overvotes and 999 Franken Challenges split 862 Coleman Votes and 137 overvotes. That is a 50 vote swing in Franken's favor.

Coleman will lose this challenge.

Another excellent challenge from the Coleman camp.

This is closer but Franken loses since there is a good vote for Coleman.

This is also a loss since it's the only mark for Senate and is consistent with other marks on the ballot.

Only 65 of the wins resulted in votes for the candidate. Those split 13 for Coleman and 52 for Franken.

Some wins are hard to come by but a good lawyer will argue this is a check mark for Franken.

Some voters show their intent differently.

35 of the wins cost resulted in overvotes, undervotes, or third party votes. 15 of these cost Coleman votes while only 9 kept Franken from getting any votes.

The judge at the table may have a bias.

333 challenges were won because of voter actions. Franken lost 173 votes and Coleman lost 160 due to  stuff voters wrote on the ballots (ht: DemocraticLuntz).


The final 235 were challenged for procedural errors. Franken lost 149 votes due to alleged errors in duplicating ballots compared to only 40 for Coleman. Minneapolis accounted for 112 of the alleged duplication errors and that may cost Franken enough votes to make the difference. They are too scattered to provide all the links, you just have to trust me.

Those ballots will make the difference, not the Lizard People, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Originally posted to Tomtech's Ramblings on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:10 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  does the current star trib tally... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech

    ...reflect any of the withdrawn challenges?

    it still says roughly 3000 challenges each (the pre withdrawal numbers) yet they've move the vote differential from 300+ back to 192.

    what happened?

    "I don't think they're going to be any more successful in 2010 or 2012."
    -Yes On 8 co-manager

    by jethropalerobber on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:17:00 AM PST

  •  If anything this should teach us (5+ / 0-)

    not to be a smart ass with voting and mark only where appropriate.

  •  Recommended for your hard work & + news (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pollbuster, Tomtech, liberal atheist

    My brief efforts have led me to conclude that Coleman has many more frivolous challenges than Coleman does.

    The duplication error issue should be easy to resolve in Franken's favor.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:25:39 AM PST

  •  That Last One (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pollbuster, Tomtech, liberal atheist

    I think goes to a vote for Franken--just because the person seemed to be doodling and making marks (or maybe being sarcastic who knows?)--but the bubble is clearly filled for Franken.

  •  what's amazing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech

    is the way that people can take something so simple as voting and f- it up so badly.  

    I empathize totally with elderly and disabled who may have trouble seeing and/or filling in the whole oval.  The one with the zigzag through the other names is really bugging me for some reason...

  •  Here's what I want to know about all this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech

    How is there ever going to be a resolution to all this that is going to be accepted as fair by both sides????

    With some of these challenges, you're just making a "best guess" as to what the voter was thinking when they filled it out.  There's a margin of error there.  This could come down to a handful of votes -- clearly clearly much less than the margin of error in interpreting these ballots.  

    Here's what I think -- this is so close that there is no way to know for sure who "won."  None.  Zilch.  Whover loses is going to litigate and his supporters will cry foul for years.  And with some justification.  

    A coin flip is looking more and more attractive.  At least both sides might see that as fair.  

    Even if your candidate wins, surely, surely you can see the absurdity of all of this.  It's going to come down to guesses about what a few people (who clearly didn't fill out a ballot in accordance with the instructions -- marks in more than one "bubble"? Lizard people?) meant when they put random marks on a paper.  A few wrong "guesses" and the wrong guy wings.  

    This s a nightmare, and I just don't see a way out.  I'd love to hear some suggestions -- just for fun -- about a way out of this that doesn't leave the loser yelling about being robbed.  

    •  the state canvassing board will decide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tomtech

      how to count the votes, and if a problem still exists after that, the couts will decide the issues. There is no magical solution for the situation.

      "We had a decisive win... and so I don't think there is any question we have a mandate to move the country in a new direction." Barack Obama

      by pollbuster on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:36:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The fairest solution right now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tomtech, coffeetalk

      is a revote without Barkley on the ballot.

      Proud to be a pro-"torture" Democrat.

      by IhateBush on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:39:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I actually agree with that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tomtech

        although I suspect that there's no way to do that under the law.  

        •  Actually there is (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, Tomtech, coffeetalk

          the Senate refuses to seat either, and they agree another election, and nobody is seated until the Minnesota legislature passes a law to allow for a special election between Franken and Coleman in say April.

          Proud to be a pro-"torture" Democrat.

          by IhateBush on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:45:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, but to have the appearance of being fair (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tomtech

            The Senate would have to announce that now, before there is some "declared" winner.  If Coleman "wins" (and like I said, I don't think we'll ever know who won) and they refuse to seat him and order a new election, it's going to be seen by some as a crass political move, and people will be yelling about how they wouldn't have done that if Franken had "won."  They'd have to say now that no matter who wins, it is too close to know for sure, and they won't seat anybody until they have essentially a runoff.  They need to do that before this process ends so that it is clear that it is not a partisan move and really is an attempt to reach a fair resoltuion.

            That would actually be the best solution.  

            •  That is very true (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tomtech

              and is what should happen.  But we have some spineless high level Democrats who apparently are hoping that Coleman will win because they think that Franken is an embarrassment.  
              So unfortunately, I think Coleman will be seated if he "wins"(although the only place where Coleman should be sent to is either prison or Gitmo.)  The more interesting scenario will be what happens if Franken, with the old count in the precinct with the missing ballots, and perhaps the uncounted absentee ballots gives Franken the lead (either in the canvassing board or through the courts).  I suspect that Coleman will then sue and demand that he be seated or that a new election be called.

              Proud to be a pro-"torture" Democrat.

              by IhateBush on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 11:05:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Let's not forget the millions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech

    of ballots that had no problems. Actually only a relative handful were butchered in any way. Unfortunately it's that handful of votes that will probably decide this election.

    "We had a decisive win... and so I don't think there is any question we have a mandate to move the country in a new direction." Barack Obama

    by pollbuster on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 10:34:13 AM PST

  •  Here's the thing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech, feebog, liberal atheist

    On a lot of those, that tiny picture doesn't show the problem. If the reason given is "Identifying mark", then the argument is that the voter could have pre-arranged something along the lines of "I'm going to write in Lizard People so you know I'm voting for the person you're paying me to vote for". Or "I'm deliberately going to mark a bit above on all the circles." Or even something as simple as "I'm going to write myself in on all the races that are unopposed".

    That's the argument- that the voter has done something so unusual that it could be used as a means of identifying one's own ballot to someone else.

    Both Franken and Coleman are doing this- I suspect the end result will be one of three things (as far as I can tell):

    1. Throw out all ballots with any sort of identifying marks. That means our favorite Lizard-worshipper won't get his vote counted. I doubt this will be the outcome in large part because it basically throws the whole thing to "who challenged more ballots".
    1. Keep all ballots that have identifying marks. This is the outcome I expect.
    1. Keep all ballots that have identifying marks other than what is apparently the name of the person casting the ballot in question. I can see this outcome, though it's not what I would expect and could set a bad precedent- barring people from writing themselves in strikes me as odd, but I'm not an election law expert (or a lawyer, at that).

    Anyone with more information than me think/know that I'm wrong about these "identifying mark" ballots in particular?

    •  identifying mark (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tomtech

      Some people actually signed their ballots. Those signatures were redacted before the ballot was released to MPR. There is no way to know what "identifying mark" means. This makes the diarists attempt to figure those ballots out kind of futile.

      "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

      by mdsiamese on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:36:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Those didn't matter much. (0+ / 0-)

        The split between Coleman and Franken on the 3 ballots with redacted marks was 2 to 1.

        This exercise was done to see if there was a disproportionate effect due to a certain challenge type and that only occurred in the duplicates category.

      •  What "identifying mark" means (0+ / 0-)

        Minnesota has clearly defined that in the courts and the legislature. The rules are linked in the first paragraph of the body.

        The basic test is anything written by the voter which makes the ballot identifiable.

        •  Anything? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tomtech

          So if you're the only person who writes in some specific name, that makes it "identifiable"? That seems reasonable, I suppose.

          What about handwriting on write-in ballots? I'm pretty sure no two Ron Paul write-in votes will be identical... Heck, someone could game the system by patterning the votes in the uncontested races- alternate between actually voting for the person or writing in someone (it could even be a "real" write-in vote); if there's enough uncontested races left you could even encode two or three letters of ASCII text in it (initials, perhaps?)... I just don't see how a rule like this can be enforced sanely.

          I mean, you could pull off some weird voting pattern as proof of your own ballot and hoping that nobody else matched it- and if your pattern was crazy enough there is a good chance you'd be the only one in the precinct to do it.

          Or maybe I'm simply thinking too hard about this and it simply has to be something that can be identifiable without pre-arrangement?

  •  writing on ballots (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech

    333 challenges were won because of voter actions. Franken lost 173 votes and Coleman lost 160 due to  stuff voters wrote on the ballots (ht: DemocraticLuntz).

    I thought that "identifying marks" invalidated ballots. Merely writing on a ballot does not "identify" it.

    "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

    by mdsiamese on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:29:14 PM PST

    •  The test is not identifying the person. (0+ / 0-)

      The test is if the ballot is identifiable. Any unique marks can disqualify a ballot.

      One voter did a math problem at the bottom of the ballot and that could be interpreted as a pre-arranged identifier to prove someone voted a certain way.

      •  then why (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tomtech

        were those ballots challenged? If that's the test, any ballot with anything other than a stray mark would have been tossed by the counter and challenging it would be futile.

        Do you happen to have a link to anything that says that is the test? I'm not being snarky, I really don't know and would like to see a source.

        "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

        by mdsiamese on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 12:45:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The rules are linked above. (0+ / 0-)

          See the first paragraph of the diary body.

          The counters counted the ballot in almost every circumstance. One candidate's team or the other would challenge the counter no matter which way they ruled.

          •  identifying marks (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            phenry, Tomtech

            a much better link

            Subd. 13.Identifying ballot.

            If a ballot is marked by distinguishing characteristics in a manner making it evident that the voter intended to identify the ballot, the entire ballot is defective.

            I have to disagree with your assessment of this and no wonder so many ballots were challenged. The voter had to "intend" to identify the ballot. Mindlessly summing some numbers at the bottom is not necessarily intent to identify. Writing initials or a name, yep, that is an intent to identify the ballot. These "identified" ballots are going to be a judgment call, but I hope for  the voter's sake the canvassing board does not consider every mark that is more than a stray mark to be an identifying mark.

            "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

            by mdsiamese on Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 01:02:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Duplicates? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech

    I'm understanding that duplicates are used when the original ballot (often an absentee vote) won't scan.  What is wrong with duplicates for Franken that cause Coleman to challenge?  Please explain sllloowwly.  Thank you!

    On another matter, I am quite concerned about the erroneously rejected absentee ballots.  I believe they should be counted and tabulated, but I also believe the process should be uniform so that there is no great dispute when the ballots are ordered to be counted.  Is this why Ritchie is practically inviting a court to intervene?

    •  You must have both to count either! (0+ / 0-)

      Only the originals are actually counted.

      If a ballot is marked original (or is a federal absentee ballot that cannot be scanned) the assumption is the duplicate was created and counted so originals without matching duplicates aren't counted.

      If no duplicate can be located the assumption is the duplicate was created but not marked and was counted as part of the recount.

      If you have a ballot marked duplicate it cannot be counted since the assumption is the original was already included in the recount.

      The SOS has created a schedule for examining unopened rejected absentee envelopes. The Rejected Absentee Ballot Sorting Schedule is a step in the right direction towards counting these ballots.

      With Franken's record of entertaining troops with USO tours and the Republicans bad name worldwide Franken has been killing Coleman in the absentee ballots I've seen and he needs these to push the margin.

  •  great work Tom but 2702! maybe it's time to have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tomtech

    a long hard look at your life, I thought I was bad stumbling through 500 or so of them, it has to be one of the most tedious tasks, just marginally worse than traffic surveys, counting cars at busy intersections.

    So many were frivulous challenges, but one thing stood out for me, and that is I have no doubt the design of the ballot cost Franken votes. Placing Barkley in the #1 slot and Coleman at #2 where democrats were positioned throughout the rest of the ballot, would've caused many democrats to auto vote for Coleman.

    You see it happening again and again on ballots where both republican and democrat voters began marking in the wrong position, ultimately noticing and changing it, but I wonder how many didn't notice?

    STOP PRESS! - Wall Street banker keeps big sack of cash, people angry

    by Dirk Thrust on Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 09:07:41 AM PST

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