Minnesota: Let the Bickering Begin
The Minnesota Senate race hit another bump today as the campaigns of Al Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman disagreed over which absentee ballots to count, to the surprise of no one.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Dec. 18 that all improperly rejected absentee ballots must be counted, and local election officials found that 1,346 ballots fit this description. But the two campaigns must agree that a ballot was improperly rejected in order for it to be counted — and compromise in this election is hard to come by.
The Franken campaign wants to count all 1,346 of the ballots. The Coleman team, on the other hand, has so far agreed to just 136 of these ballots, though it promised that more would be forthcoming.
Franken holds an unofficial 46-vote lead after the Minnesota State Canvassing Board finished reviewing challenged ballots a week ago. These absentee ballots, then, could easily make the difference in this tight race.
According to the Star Tribune, about 60 percent of these ballots are from Hennepin, St. Louis, Ramsey and Dakota counties. I ran the numbers, using the county-by-county election returns, and found that Franken won 56.9 percent of the vote in these counties, to Coleman’s 43.1 percent. If these numbers hold, Franken would gain 460 votes from these counties if all 1,346 ballots are counted, while Coleman would gain 348.
Franken’s lead would then grow from 46 to 158. In order for Coleman to win the race, he would have to win 64.7 percent of the 538 ballots from the remaining counties. Considering that he won only 55.6 percent of the overall vote in these counties, his chances of winning the election are slim if all 1,346 absentee ballots are counted.
It’s easy to understand why the Coleman campaign is doing its best to prevent that from happening.