Monday, January 5, 2009

How to Steal an Election

I predicted to friends that Minnesota would continue to count votes in the unsettled Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken until Franken gained a comfortable enough lead. Once that occurred there would be calls to end the process so that Minnesota could get on with the business of being Minnesota.

That point has been reached, as Franken has opened up a 225 vote lead. The state canvassing board immediately declared the recount finished. Now Coleman is going to sue in State Supreme Court.
How did it get to this point? Read here for a detailed timeline of the canvassing board's trip down the yellow brick road. Suffice it to say though the purpose of the recount was to seat Al Franken. Why do I say this? Because of this:

Last month, Mr. Franken's campaign charged that one Hennepin County (Minneapolis) precinct had "lost" 133 votes, since the hand recount showed fewer ballots than machine votes recorded on Election Night. Though there is no proof to this missing vote charge -- officials may have accidentally run the ballots through the machine twice on Election Night -- the Canvassing Board chose to go with the Election Night total, rather than the actual number of ballots in the recount. That decision gave Mr. Franken a gain of 46 votes.

Meanwhile, a Ramsey County precinct ended up with 177 more ballots than there were recorded votes on Election Night. In that case, the board decided to go with the extra ballots, rather than the Election Night total, even though the county is now showing more ballots than voters in the precinct. This gave Mr. Franken a net gain of 37 votes, which means he's benefited both ways from the board's inconsistency.

So, if counting ballots resulted in a net gain for Franken in one part of Minnesota, the board decided to count them. If rejecting ballots resulted in a net gain for Franken in another part, the board threw them out.

Then there's the absentee ballots (from the same WSJ article linked above):

Counties were supposed to review their absentees and create a list of those they believed were mistakenly rejected. Many Franken-leaning counties did so, submitting 1,350 ballots to include in the results. But many Coleman-leaning counties have yet to complete a re-examination. Despite this lack of uniformity, and though the state Supreme Court has yet to rule on a Coleman request to standardize this absentee review, Mr. Ritchie's office nonetheless plowed through the incomplete pile of 1,350 absentees this weekend, padding Mr. Franken's edge by a further 176 votes.

The entire recount process has been riddled with stories of ballot boxes mysteriously found in cars, warehouses and even thin air. Amazing, nearly all these votes were for Franken.

Minnesota has always run blue so it's no surprise Franken was going to end up winning a recount. But you'd think Minnesotans would have learned their lesson about celebrity politicians after electing this guy as governor.


  1. Very true. But Jessy only won with 33% of the vote and he had much more experience than Franken!

    One item missing from the WSJ article is that it was almost statistically impossible for Franken to pick up the necessary votes to win the election when compared to the statistical distribution of votes in each of the districts where he gained. In fact, your chances of winning the Power Ball are about the same.

    Well, if we don't like it, we'll just have to move to a less corrupt location like New Orleans or Chicago.

  2. Another reason I'm glad I moved to North Dakota. Good luck!