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It ain't so, Joe: Soucheray's bizarre recount timeline

In Joe Soucheray's Wednesday column arguing against absentee ballots, there's a significant error recapitulating the U.S. Senate recount. Joe makes it look like his guy, Norm Coleman, would've won but for those devilish absentees. But that's false.

Here's the top of the column:

Yes, it is tempting to join the Greek chorus of the unwashed, the bloggers and the always-anonymous posters and urge Norm Coleman to let it go, wish Al Godspeed and send Franni some flowers.

Except ...

Coleman led after the election Nov. 4. And when the votes were officially tallied, Coleman still was the winner — by 215 votes.

But the closeness of the race triggered an automatic recount ... and Coleman still wound up the winner. This time, by 192 votes.

The state canvassing board at that time said, among other things, "Well, let's take a look at so-called improperly rejected absentee ballots." The Coleman team appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court, but the court ordered that those improperly rejected absentee ballots get added to the mix.

Sooch's timeline omits a key point: Franken actually led before any improperly rejected absentee vote was added to the pile.

It's simply bizarre to cite Coleman as a 192-vote "winner" after the "automatic recount." At best, this was an interim point, when local officials stopped counting physical ballots, but before a huge pile of challenges — remember Lizard People? — were judged.

If you remember, campaigns did the challenging, meaning they could manipulate the lead. And Coleman's forces did just that. Franken's troops loudly predicted Coleman's challenges were lamer, and they were right. When the sorting was done, Franken had a 49-vote lead.

Only then were the improperly rejected absentee ballots "added to the mix." In other words, Franken would've won even if no improperly rejected absentee vote was counted.

I know recount math is harder than figuring one's cylinder index, but still, where was the Pioneer Press copy desk on this?

By the end of the piece, Soucheray argues that absentee ballots are just too damn much trouble and we need to make such voting harder. It's risible, but fair comment. (The alternative: make absentee voting simpler and less error-prone.) Still, making the case shouldn't require a phonying up of history.

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Comments (13)

one man's "phonying up" is another man's "dumbing down."
in this case, i vote for DD
by absentee ballot, of course

I have to wonder how Soucheray managed to get the job he has, when he can't even get the basic facts close to correct.

David Bauer's article is an excellent piece of journalism--something we see all too rarely these days. Most journalism today consists essentially of dictation taken straight from political party or corporate talking-point memos.

Bauer does his readers the rare service of actually evaluting statements rather than merely repeating them and, where it is needed, pointing out errors.

Nice work.

David, you should not be surprised by Joe Soucheray's column. There are very few media commentators in the Twin Cities who are as ignorant as Joe concerning issues he should really know more about.

Whenever Joe comes up in a conversation I always like to quote his wife (the CP). During a local magazine profile of Joe quite some time ago, the CP said that he does not have a coherent political philosophy. In her view all Joe has is a series of reactions to various issues. The implication was that Joe spends very little time researching or even thinking about these issues.

In my view Joe is one of those articulate guys who has the ability to present himself to people as being an intelligent and knowlegeable person without having any real depth to his understanding of the subjects he is addressing.

When Joe first started his afternoon radio show the name "Garage Logic" had real meaning. For the first year or two Joe tried to take a non-ideological look at issues. I think that approach started to change when he realized that the quickest way to popularity and success in local radio was to follow Limbaugh's example. We all know the result. Joe has achieved great success in the Twin Cities by becoming the kind of right-wing hack that has come to dominate the radio airwaves in the United States.

Thanks David for calling Soucheray on his omission. That's his usual level of factual accuracy.

Mr.Soucheray's commentary is as predictable as Rush Limbaugh's. And worth just as little.

It's amazing how many people - Joe, Rush among them - conclude that things are inherently unfair unless those things favor them.

Principles like fair elections, will of the people ... nah, don't need no stinking badges! We know the process is flawed - ignore those robed fair and neutral professional arbiters of the law we call our judges .... Mr. Coleman was robbed, surely it must be true .... just ask Joe, or Rush, or Hannity, or Coulter ...

I'm shocked, shocked! that Sooch would manipulate the facts to put a positive spin on Norm Coleman's electorial chances.

Souchery is a blowhard....another example of why Republicans are going the way of the Whigs

Anyone notice the Republicans are doing the exact same thing in New York? Challenging perfectly good ballots in order to artificially pad their lead and claim theft later. Despicable.

Joe never lets facts get in his way. He either ignores them or fabricates them.

This correction was posted to Soucheray's column on the Web on Wednesday.
A similar correction ran in the print edition today:

Joe Soucheray's column in Wednesday's Pioneer Press misstated vote totals for Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken. The column should have said that the closeness of the race triggered an automatic recount. At one point Coleman was ahead by 192 votes, not including challenged ballots. When challenged ballots were included, but before the improperly rejected absentee ballots were counted, Franken led by 49 votes.

Sid Hartman sometimes makes dumb mistakes,too, but he's 89. Maybe Joe should take a buyout from the Pioneer Press and simply quit KSTP radio.

This Mayor wears no clothes. He puts his lies right out there for all to see in black & white. But alas! What's black & white and NOT READ all over? Hint: Joe's column.