It Never Ends …
Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) filed his appeal of the Senate election contest with the Minnesota Supreme Court today, arguing that “widespread disparities” in which absentee ballots were accepted distorted the final vote tally.
“The deliberate and disparate treatment of large numbers of similarly situated voters — who had their votes counted only if they lived in certain jurisdictions — is unacceptable in any election,” the brief notes. “It is especially so in one so close.”
Earlier this month, following a seven-week trial, a three-judge panel determined that Democrat Al Franken won the election by 312 votes. Coleman immediately announced that he would appeal the ruling.
The crux of Coleman’s case is whether different standards were applied across the state in deciding which absentee ballots were counted in violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
“Some counties, for example, assiduously researched whether a voter or his witness was registered; others never inquired,” the 62-page brief notes. “Some officials accepted ballots when they could not locate an application; others refused to do so. The result is that whether an absentee ballot was accepted depended on where the voter lived.”
While many legal observers praised the ruling of the three-judge panel that heard the election contest as thorough and well reasoned, Coleman argues that the trio erred in failing to consider evidence of disparate treatment of ballots.
“Had the court not excluded such evidence Coleman would have proven the disparities changed the outcome of the election,” the brief reads.
Coleman contends other errors were made by the panel as well. The appeal argues that the judges failed to order precinct inspections to determine if double-counting of ballots occurred and wrongly included 132 ballots from a Minneapolis precinct that were lost.
The brief, signed by attorney James Langdon, concludes that the case should be remanded back to the trial court to remedy these errors. Specifically, Coleman wants at least 1,359 absentee ballots added to the final tally.
Franken’s reply brief is due May 11, and oral arguments are slated for June 1 before the five justices. Two of the Supreme Court’s justices — Eric Magnuson and G. Barry Anderson — have recused themselves from the current case because they served on the State Canvassing Board that oversaw the recount.
Paul Demko is a reporter for TWI’s sister site, The Minnesota Independent.