Daily Glean: Editorials on Coleman-Franken recount: Pipe down, Norm

Remember all those papers that endorsed Norm Coleman? Some are all-but-mocking the Republican one day after the election. “Coleman’s call for Franken to waive the recount should go unheeded,” opines the Strib. “Candidates’ claims of victory or concessions of defeat don’t decide elections. Certified vote totals do.” PiPress: “We’re going to have a recount. We need a recount. It is not up to the candidates. It is up to the voters.”

Coleman’s margin shrunk from 725 to 477 as local officials checked their data entry, the PiPress reports. [Update: it’s now 437.] Local officials, watched by campaigns, will send disputed ballots to a state board of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and four judges. Ritchie’s office presciently put out a pre-election recount guide; if a voter’s intent can be discerned, technicalities won’t void it, the Strib notes. The recount will cost $86,000 (not, as WCCO’s Pat Kessler miscalculated Wednesday at 6 p.m., a million dollars).

The local version of Bush v. Gore features dueling ex-Minnesota U.S. Attorneys Tom Heffelfinger (for Coleman) and David Lillehaug (for Franken). Heffelfinger tells Forum Communications’ Don Davis that he is “quite concerned about the sudden disappearance of nearly 250 votes over the course of two hours” after the secretary of state’s office reported all precincts in. The Strib’s Kevin Diaz says the pro-Coleman Chamber of Commerce “is also weighing its options” and may fund GOP efforts.

So can the recount switch the results? A Ramsey County official tells KARE two of every 1,000 optically scanned votes aren’t counted(!); extrapolated, that means 6,000 votes could enter the pool this time. AP says in the 2004 Washington guv’s race, 219 optically scanned votes switched from a similar-sized election. Recounts switched a 2006 St. Louis County Attorney’s race and a 1991 St. Paul City Council contest, but no margins or percentages are presented.

More recount history: The Strib’s Richard Meryhew notes the famed 1962 guv’s race switched on 233 votes, half the current gap. A 1986 congressional recount switched 126 votes of 188,000 counted toward the leader.

The focus also shifts to alleged Election Day shenanigans. Lillehaug mentioned irregularities but “at least some probably have no merit.” Minnesota Independent’s report of a Coleman staffer electioneering at a Somali-heavy polling place gets picked up by WCCO and KSTP, which says complaints are being filed against Franken’s campaign, too. However, the Independent’s Molly Priesmeyer says she heard no complaints about the Democrat while there and saw no Franken staff. Hennepin County investigates vote-by-phone fraud, Fox9 adds.

Late Election Night funny: Buhl, Minn., officials apparently went to bed without calling in their burg’s results, the Duluth News Tribune’s John Myers reports; everyone thought the other guy did it. Meanwhile, naked Obama celebrants were streaking along Lyndale Avenue, the Strib’s Maria Elena Baca writes.

The PiPress’ Bill Salisbury and Mary Jo Webster note Obama took 16 Minnesota counties Bush carried. Democratic totals in Olmstead, Washington and Dakota counties increased by double digits. The campaign model was to compete in Rochester and suburban cities. Coleman won 12 counties where Obama prevailed. We noted Obama’s lack of coattails Election Night; his campaign blames first-time voters who didn’t care about the rest of the ticket.

The Strib’s Pat Doyle credits Michele Bachmann’s attacks on El Tinklenberg’s cronyism for helping her win re-election. A political scientist notes Tinklenberg’s late-campaign MSNBC financial windfall wasn’t as good as Bachmann’s early money. Bachmann won by 3 percentage points; IP non-campaigner Bob Anderson got 10 percent, “5 percent more than we hoped,” Tinklenberg’s campaign manager says.

The Strib’s Bob von Sternberg plays up the IP-spoiler angle. Von Sternberg says analysis proves Dean Barkley flipped the election to Coleman, and unless Jesse Ventura wins, the dynamic regularly hurts DFLers. From the editorial page, Lori Sturdevant disagrees, noting that Barkley voters’ second choices were split evenly between Coleman and Franken. (MPR concurs.) IP candidate David Dillon, who may have swung the election to Erik Paulsen, actually agrees with the spoiler criticism.

One way around the spoiler problem: Instant Runoff Voting, KSTP notes. By ranking options, majority sentiment would emerge as candidates with the fewest first choices are cut from the bottom. Coincidentally, the DFL, IP and Greens endorse the method, but Republicans don’t. (Disclaimer: I was an IRV activist in Minneapolis a few years ago.)

Despite all the outdoorsfolk’s kvetching about yoking arts to the habitat amendment, the shotgun marriage was probably necessary for passage, the PiPress’ Dennis Lien writes. Another reason for victory: Only 5 percent passed on the issue, compared with the expected 9 percent. Those are “no” votes when it comes to amendments. The Strib’s Tom Meersman says the Legislature will decide $275 million in spending, but citizens councils will advise. MPR looks at the arts impact; they’ll get around $55 million each year.

Most school levies won, according to a Strib headline, but the actual numbers were nearly 50-50; 22 of 41 operating-fund requests and seven of 13 building projects. (Great interactive map from MPR.) School supporters spin this as good in tough economic times. Minneapolis will begin spending its doubled levy next fall, the Strib’s Patrice Relerford writes. The St. Cloud Times says the state’s school funding is messed up.

The election could mean Washington County will drop out of the regional transit-tax system. A key commissioner seat flipped, the PiPress’ Mary Divine reports. Washington County was scheduled to get an initial $1 million for the $4 million its quarter-cent tax would pump in.

Bad ideas travel: Delta will pick up Northwest’s baggage fees and choice-seat fares; however, they are immediately getting rid of $25 to $100 frequent-flier fuel surcharges, the PiPress’ John Welbes writes. Coincidentally, Southwest Airlines announces Twin Cities-Chicago prices and schedules today, the Strib notes.

Two downtown Minneapolis developers owe back property taxes for their still-vacant sites, the Strib’s Susan Feyder notes. A Whole Foods project on the old Downtown Jaguar site near the river is likely dead, and no one’s doing anything with the old Let It Be Records home on Nicollet Mall.

Emerging controversy: High-voltage power lines proposed for Minneapolis’ Lake Street, courtesy of the Strib’s Steve Brandt. He notes Abbott-Northwestern Hospital has had 16 unplanned outages this year. I can’t help wondering if the flickering supply makes Xcel Energy’s case, or is a clever attempt at influence.

Nort spews: Tony Parker threw in 55 points as the Spurs beat the Timberwolves in double-OT 129-125. Britt Robson’s recap is here.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Chris Johnson on 11/06/2008 - 10:49 am.

    The Chamber of Commerce “is also weighing its options” in the Coleman/Franken recount? Whatever happened to one person, one vote? Or is the standard operating procedure for right-leaning organizations to simply try to buy elections these days?

    As much as I dislike Coleman, I’d frankly prefer that everyone who wanted to vote simply be able to do that easily and accurately, and have all of their votes counted correctly. Voter suppression and inaccurate counts (accidental and intentional) are bigger problems than actual voter fraud.

  2. Submitted by B Ftenberg on 11/06/2008 - 12:31 pm.

    I agree completely with your sentiments and comments.

  3. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 11/07/2008 - 09:55 am.

    Neither party will have any confidence in this Senate race outcome, you can see that right now.

    That will be the case as long as we rely on the “honor system” for voting.

    And as for these editorials, save us the moral outrage. Franken would have done the same thing. All political arguments about process are by definition insincere, to quote Michael Barone.

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