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Minnesota is a “ascertain-the-voter-intent” rather than strict adherence state. MPR has posted jpegs of some of the ballots being challenged by both the Franken and Coleman campaigns, including the one to the left. They are polling for each challenged ballot to see how you would rule on the status of each.
In the ballot to the left, I would give it to Franken. The bubble was marked next to Lizard People in the race above the Senate boxes, and it would seem that more likely than not the voter just included “Lizard People” in the Senate race to be flippant and not to cast a write-in vote.
My judgments on the ballots at the MPR site are as follows:
2. Accept the ballot
3. Reject the ballot
6. Sufficient evidence of intent (though I’d like to know how the rest of the ballot was filled out)
11. Coleman (this was the most difficult one for me – I went back and forth)
So where do you differ from me? Bear in mind that under Minnesota law the intent of the voter is paramount, so even if you aren’t completely certain of the intent, you should go with what is most likely the intent. In other states, including California, it may be different, and while we can debate the virtues of differing standards, try to make your judgments based on the liberal standards of Minnesota.
Addendum: Nate Silver is asking whether Franken is being “too nice” about his challenges. If Coleman is ahead after the second round before the disputed ballots are determined, Silver reasons that Coleman will have moral leverage to play the ref in the final determinations.
Personally, I think everybody needs to relax and let the campaigns and officials do their thing. Maybe Franken just doesn’t have as many questionable ballots to work with.
Oh, and in response to the poster who says that I have too much time on my hands: how about this guy?!
In particular this proves, uh, something.
Second addendum: There are some ballots challenged on the second day. My take:
1. Accept the ballot. The idea is to keep people from making ballots identifiable to government, business, or union bosses. But if there’s only one in the batch, obviously there’s no conspiracy of intimidation. If there were a series of ballots like this one, I’d say invalidate them.
2. Accept the ballot.
3. I would have to conclude that the voter intended to nullify the mark, unless all of the offices were similarly marked with an x. But we see bubble filled without one. On the other hand, there’s no other selection made and it seems odd that the voter would vote for Coleman by mistake when he/she intended to vote for nobody.
4. I’d have to reject this one. “Lizard men” can be explained away as snark. This one makes no sense.
Third addendum: Al Franken is going to review his campaign’s ballot challenges over the weekend to determine if any of them should be withdrawn. He’s calling on Coleman to do the same, but don’t bet on that.
For those of you with a copy handy, check out the front page story about the Bootleg robbery. Note the names of the alleged perpetrators. Then go to the second section of the paper and check out the “who’s reading the Independent” caption, where you’re supposed to guess who face is partially obscured by the paper and they show you the face of last week’s mystery reader.
Only in a small town.
He’s pissed off a lot of world leaders.
So it’s a couple of weeks after the most intriguing election of my lifetime and there’s still enough news that I’m not even suffering withdrawal. A few races haven’t been resolved, and the next battle lines are already being drawn.
Paul Begich is the new Senator of Alaska. That’s 58 confirmed Democrats, including Sanders, not including Lieberman. The Republicans are spared the unpleasant duty of expelling the convicted Ted Stephens from the Senate.
And that leaves two Senate races yet to be decided.
The Minnesota Senate election recount began today. 2.9 million votes to be hand counted with the certified machine count giving Coleman a 215 vote lead. Most of the pundits are saying that the undervote count will benefit Franken as they tend to be new voters who make errors on their ballots, but either of them can win. As the recounting happens, both candidates are challenging the legitimacy of ballots. Those ballots won’t be counted until the disputes are resolved. So far Coleman is challenging more ballots than Franken, which is being seen as a good sign for Franken under the liberal rules of consideration in the state. Franken has picked up a few dozen votes, but it’s way too early tell anything. You can track the recount here. The early estimates for the recount were as long as a month, but they seem to have made considerable progress today.
On December 2 Georgia will hold a runoff election for their Senate seat. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has renewed its endorsement of the Democratic challenger Jim Martin, but the Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss is slightly favored, a prediction status supported by the most recent Rasmussen poll. Obama, McCain, Clinton, Palin, Romney, and every major party bigwig and his/her uncle are going down to poor Georgia to push for their respective candidate. There were reports and rumors of voting irregularities for the first round, and I wonder if the intense media focus over the next couple of weeks reveals anything concrete.
If Franken and Martin both win that would bring the Democrats to their “filibuster proof” 60, not including Lieberman. (Addendum – a poster says that the 60 number would include Lieberman – I will verify or correct later)
Speaking of Lieberman, largely due to Obama, he skated by with only 13 Democrats voting to take away his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee. You can blame it on Obama who told Senate leaders that he wants to jump right into substantive policy concerns in January and didn’t want party politics drama distracting anybody.
The final vote tallies are coming in, and Obama has exceeded 67 million votes and counting. McCain’s numbers have slipped below 46 percent.
Missouri is finally called for McCain by .12 percentage points. Obama could get a free recount, but there’s no indication he’ll call for one. It’s the first time in many years that Missouri did not pick the winner.
Obama made some more history, taking Salt Lake County, one of two slightly blue counties in the “blood red” state of Utah.
Meanwhile, Al Qaeda’s latest Number 2 had harsh words for Obama, calling him a “house negro,” invoking Malcolm X’s famous reference to MLK. Apparently there is concern among militants that Obama’s election could soften the intensity of radical Muslim anger with the U.S., which could cut hard into their supply of suicide bombers – sort of a Jihadist recession.
Back on the domestic front, all indications are that Obama does intend to aggressively pursue universal health care (I’ll forgive him Lieberman if he accomplishes it). Rahm is talking it up on the airwaves, and Tom Daschle has been chosen for the Health and Human Services Department. Meanwhile, Kennedy is setting up working groups in the Senate to develop some health care legislation. One of those groups is to be headed up by Hillary Clinton, which is diminishing some of the Secretary of State talk. One possibility is that Obama offers and she respectfully declines in a bit of theater before he hands it off to Richardson or Kerry.
Congressman Henry Waxman is favored to beat out John Dingell to head up the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That could signal a big move towards alternative energy, global warming policy, and fuel efficiency standards. The latter could become a moot issue, in this country anyway. Update: Waxman wins! This is actually a very big deal if you’re an environmentalist.
Addendum: Oklahoma does not share the change euphoria.