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Senate recount trial updates: 80 registration forms, ‘shrinking’ Coleman ballot universe and Bell case

As reported earlier today, about 80 voter registration forms were found when election officials statewide opened about 1,540 absentee ballot secrecy envelopes last week.

What we missed in that item is this reality: The finding of 80 registered voters means that about 1,460 of those ballots were cast by unregistered voters.

The Franken and Coleman sides estimate that about half of those 1,500 ballots were on their lists of ballots they wanted to be examined by the three-judge panel.

Thus Coleman’s universe of legally cast ballots that his side wants opened may now be as low as 1,000, if not lower. Last week in court, the Coleman side said it still believed there were 1,725 ballots out there worthy of being opened.

But Coleman spokesman Ben Ginsberg acknowledged this afternoon that now it’s lower than 1,725 but wouldn’t nail down the number. The Coleman side will submit by Wednesday a spreadsheet of the ballots it still thinks should be considered.


The Franken side asserted last week that Coleman has a grand total of nine ballots in its universe that have been legally cast.

It would seem – that with this finding of about 80 ballots – the Coleman universe is dwindling to about 1,000 votes now.

Assuming that all of those ballots are opened and valid, Coleman would have to win that subset by an unlikely wide margin to overcome Franken’s 225 vote lead … plus other voters Franken has picked up along the way at this trial.

On other matters, Ginsberg said today that Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky’s testimony today about how election officials in his county examined signature mismatches and witness addresses is different from other counties’ policies.

Ginsberg asserted again that the secretary of state’s voter data base is still incomplete, thus disenfranchising some voters.

Then, there’s the Bell case, as detailed by colleague Eric Black today.

Ginsberg said that the way in which voters’ absentee ballots weren’t able to be challenged in Ramsey County on Election Night means that the Bell case is very much alive in this election contest, presumably on appeal.

Mansky testified that there was no way for candidates to challenge absentee ballots on Election Night. Political parties could, but not the candidates’ representatives themselves.

You’ve got to read Black’s analysis to understand it all, but Ginsberg disagrees that the Bell case prevents re-examination of already-cast votes on Election Night.

“The notion that there is somehow no ability to go back and look at what has now been defined as illegally cast ballots on Election Day has been refuted today,” Ginsberg said, of testimony from Mansky about this. “While that is an arcane point, perhaps it will come back to play a role as this progresses.”

So put that on your list of issues that Coleman’s side will bring to a higher court someday soon.

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Comments (3)

Even Ginsberg can't see the forest for the trees here. Of 161 located registrations, when subjected to the ECC Judges standards 72 were rejected! No county rejected registrations among the absentee ballots at anything approaching this rate.

I suspect Ginsberg's seemingly delusional idea that individual ballots cast on election night can now be mysteriously identified as the exact same ballots that were cast with improperly approved absentee ballot applications and removed from the totals is simply a ploy through which he and Coleman's team will try to pretend there are no available remedies for the "flaws" in this election under Minnesota voting laws (even though they have completely failed to prove such flaws). He/they will then claim that, since there is no legal remedy to provide what they believe to be required, this election must be cast aside, contrary to MN state law and a new election must be held. They really do seem to believe they have the power to throw out the election and require a "do over." I certainly hope they are proved wrong.

Um... Erich, I'm pretty sure no county received absentee ballots exclusively from people who didn't understand the instructions well enough to know they weren't supposed to place their registration inside the secrecy envelope with the ballot. It's not surprising this particular set of absentee voters would make other mistakes in filling out their registrations at a much higher rate than the overall set of absentee voters.