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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Smearing Sen. Al Franken

This is some extremely shoddy journalism from Mickey Kaus. The Slate blogger asks if ACORN chicanery elected Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who won a razor-thin

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Sep 29, 2009

This is some extremely shoddy journalism from Mickey Kaus. The Slate blogger asks if “ACORN chicanery” elected Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who won a razor-thin 2008 race for the U.S. Senate after eight months of legal challenges. Kaus links a “tactfully phrased Minneapolis Star Tribune story” to argue that fraudulent votes might have stolen the election for Franken.

ACORN claimed to have registered 48,000 new Minnesota voters. If just 1% were ineligible but cast ballots, or had ballots cast for them illegally, and survived the recount process … that’s 480 votes, almost certainly overwhelmingly cast for Franken.

Let’s look at this.

First, the story Kaus links to is actually a column by the conservative Katherine Kersten, whom the paper refers to as “a Twin Cities writer and speaker,” and who limns the column with attacks on the “liberal agenda.” Kersten has no proof that any illegitimate votes were cast, only that “Minnesota’s laws on proof of voter eligibility are notoriously loose.”

Second, “surviving the recount process” in Minnesota was more difficult than it sounds now. Ballots were counted once and recounted twice, and challenged ballots were counted in a hearing that was streamed live. Republicans had a lot of time, and a lot of incentive, to make the cause that thousands of ballots were illegitimate. They made their case. They narrowly lost.

Franken doesn’t have to face voters again until 2014, so the attempt to smear him here is just a way of draining the ACORN story for all it’s worth and casting illegitimacy on the Democrats’ Senate majority. It’s one thing for, say, Newsmax to engage in this; I am mystified as to why Kaus would do it. From arguing that the 2000 election was stolen from Al Gore by blocked recounts to arguing that ACORN maybe, kinda-sorta, might have registered an illegal voter in Minnesota. Strange.

Update: Todd Herman, who runs new media at the RNC, heartily endorses the ACORN-Franken conspiracy.

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Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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