Outsiders to observe recount, but GOP objects to one of the watchdogs

A coalition of watchdog groups announced this afternoon that it will observe the U.S. Senate recount.

But one of the organizations, Common Cause, came under attack from the Minnesota Republican Party for being a “Democrat front group.”

The League of Women Voters, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN) and Common Cause conducted a news conference at the State Capitol this afternoon to explain their plans to monitor the recount.

Sarah Martyn Crowell, audit observation project coordinator for CEIMN, said in a statement that her group had already audited 155 precincts statewide from this month’s elections. “Our observation reports indicate that the [voting] machines have had a 99.9 percent accuracy rate.”

Of course, the recount is a hand-count. Still, the machines used in the Senate election – which is now divided by 206 votes – are apparently very reliable. A CEIMN statewide audit in 2006 showed a “discrepancy rate” among ballots cast of .00056 percent; the margin that Sen. Norm Coleman now holds over challenger Al Franken is .007 percent.

But before the news conference began, the state GOP issued a statement asking the League of Women Voters to dissociate itself from Common Cause, which GOP Minnesota chairman Ron Carey called “a well-known partisan organization.”

Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, disputed the charge, noting that Common Cause in the state included members of all parties, including Independence Party activist Tim Penny.

Carey said in his statement: “The League of Women Voters has a proud and honorable tradition in this country of nonpartisan civic engagement, but choosing to align with Democrat front groups like Common Cause threatens the integrity of that well-deserved reputation.”

Citing 90 years of nonpartisan activity, Keesha Gaskins, executive director of the League of Women Voters Minnesota, said she was “very disappointed to hear the Republican Party has come out this way.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 11/14/2008 - 10:42 pm.

    “It is not who votes that counts; it is who counts the votes.” Karl Marx It appears that Karl is doing the counting in Minnesota.

  2. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 11/16/2008 - 09:09 am.

    When Karl Marx commented on vote counters (“It is not who votes that counts; it is who counts the votes”) , his likely point of reference was the Prussian electoral system of the mid-nineteenth century, which endured for as long as Prussia (after 1871 the largest province of Imperial Germany) remained a monarchy, that is, until 1918.

    The Prussian system provided the same number of electors for each of Prussia’s three main income classes. However, the upper class consisted of only about 4.7% of the population, the middle class of about 12.6%, and the lower class of about 82.6%. (Source: Deutsche Geschichte in Schlaglichtern, Meyers Lexikonverlag, 1996)

    Marx’s wry comment therefore probably referred to the unfair electoral arithmetic of the Prussian monarchy, and to similar practices in the mostly monarchical or constitutionally-monarchical Europe of his day. Marx did not, to my knowledge, ever actually endorse ballot-stuffing or disenfranchisement of any kind.

    The US-American tradition of disenfranchisement, unfortunately, had no need of endorsement by Marx or any other foreign thinker. It was home-grown and went by the name of “Jim Crow.” Only the moral power of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s ended this shameful legacy — for the most part. Let the Left and the Right be vigilant.

  3. Submitted by Roy Lewis on 11/17/2008 - 10:37 am.

    Mr. Jacobsen: Well Said! Amen.

    Mr. Krogstad: It is easy to quote, but infinitely better to understand….

    RL – Atlanta, GA USA

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