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Al Franken May Ask U.S. Senate To Act Regarding Uncounted Ballots

December 2, 2008

This isn’t over yet.

Democrat Al Franken’s campaign said Monday that as many as 1,000 absentee ballots were improperly disqualified in Minnesota’s Senate race, and that it may appeal to courts or the U.S. Senate to order that those ballots be counted.

“Wherever the numbers stand today…that number simply cannot be relevant if it does not include all the votes that were legally cast,” said Franken attorney Marc Elias. “No recount can be considered accurate or complete until all the ballots cast by lawful voters are counted.”

Minnesota’s Board of Canvassers ruled last Wednesday that it would not revisit the improperly disqualified ballots.

Elias said that of the 12,000 disqualified absentee ballots in the race, “as many as 1,000″ ballots were improperly excluded, and should be counted. Elias said it would appeal to the Board of Canvassers, courts, or even the U.S. Senate to ensure those ballots be counted.

The U.S. Constitution allows each congressional chamber to be the “Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the Board of Canvassers’ decision to not count the absentee ballots “a cause for great concern,” fueling speculation that the Senate would explore the legality of the Minnesota recount’s results.

“If ultimately there is no remedy before the canvassing board or before the courts, then that is certainly an option,” Elias said of appealing to the Senate.

2 Comments
  1. Marcus permalink
    December 5, 2008 11:47 AM

    I agree that all votes should be counted and it would be very unfortunate if many were not due to some minor technicality. One could argue that is an issue for the judiciary to decide–not the legislative branch. Maybe a strong case can be made that the compelling interest to count each vote outweighs a minor restriction in state law pertaining to absentee ballots. Maybe the law should be nullified in the interests of making sure that the vote is counted. That was the point I was trying to make.

    Thus, the issue of counting all votes–I agree–whoever has the most should win. I just think that who arbitrates and makes the final decision is important. Our government is predicated on checks and balances to keep each branch in reasonable restraint–each focusing on its proper task. Even though the Constitution allows the Senate to weigh in on the matter–if they choose do so–and if they were to go against the decisions of local and state election officials–in their executive branch duty to implement the law–as well as the courts–in their judiciary branch duty to interpret the law–for the legislative branch to say no to both other branches–no you are wrong–and choose the winner–I think would create doubt about the legitimacy of the election–as well as our government’s system of checks and balances. Independence and a lack of being directly invested in the outcome helps ensure the integrity of the election. For X amount of US Senators–representing the legislative branch–and with a direct interest in the outcome of the election–to choose the winner undermines the integrity of the process.

  2. Marcus permalink
    December 3, 2008 4:12 PM

    I just saw your blog regarding this story. Personally, I think we all–including Democrats and democratic citizens–would lose if the US Senate determines the outcome of the election. It may well be possible–and people may forget after a few years, but if state law says the ballots should have been excluded (presumably as a way to prevent fraud) –and if the courts agree–having the US Senate weigh in after all that–makes us all look bad and undermines the real and perceived legitimacy and integrity of the elections process; the administrative process involving hundreds of dedicated, local, non-partisan election officials –and the judiciary. Another seat in the Senate is not worth it–in my opinion–if it was not a result of abiding by the law–as determined by local election officials–and, if necessary, upheld by the judiciary.

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