It’s possible, certainly not definite, that the outcome of the Coleman-Franken Senate election hangs in the balance of a new, mind-bending round of “The Ballot Challenge” created by TheThreeJudges Tuesday.
The original Ballot Challenge was an online exercise by the Strib that enabled you to look at hundreds (or was it thousands) of not-quite-perfect ballots, to decide if you could divine the intent of the voter.
In the new mind-bending round, you have to consider, category-by-category, not individual ballots but categories of absentee ballot envelopes that aren’t quite perfect. Then you decide whether the imperfection is serious enough to disqualify the ballot or so minor that it should be overlooked.
It goes something like this: Suppose a voter’s absentee ballot application was disqualified because he didn’t sign it. But suppose he didn’t sign it because the instructions telling him to sign it were covered up by a sticker that the election officials who sent him his ballot put in the wrong place. But suppose the blank on which he was supposed to sign was not covered up but clearly marked “sign here.” Or suppose he did sign, but in the wrong place. Or suppose… Anyway, should this guy’s ballot, which was disqualified on Election Day, remain disqualified or be undisqualified and opened and counted.
As MinnPoster Jay Weiner reported yesterday, TheThreeJudges gave the two legal teams until the end of today to submit briefs arguing for and against the counting of ballots that are flawed in 19 – yes 19 – different ways. It would seem that for each category that the ThreeJudges decide should not be counted, the famous “universe” of ballots that might be counted will shrink a bit. That’s how this exercise could effect the outcome.
If you are skeptical that there are 19 different ways, you haven’t half been paying attention. But while they’re briefing, take a look at the judges’ order and decide for yourself which of these categories of ballot boo-boos should be counted.
The legal teams, which have to somehow write their briefs on these issues by the end of today without any break in the trial, will then argue the questions in court tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.