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Senate election contest: Ruling likely today on Coleman effort to re-examine ballots and gather absentee envelopes

Another day, another hearing in RecountLand.Today, the three-judge election contest panel heard arguments from Norm Coleman lawyers James Langdon and Tony Trimble seeking to bring about 11,000 previously rejected absentee ballots to St.

Another day, another hearing in RecountLand.

Today, the three-judge election contest panel heard arguments from Norm Coleman lawyers James Langdon and Tony Trimble seeking to bring about 11,000 previously rejected absentee ballots to St. Paul for the court to examine.

Those ballots have been examined twice before during the original count and recount. And nearly 1,000 were included in the final count by the State Canvassing Board that gave Franken his 225-vote lead.

Al Franken’s lawyers, David Lillehaug and Marc Elias, said that gathering the absentee ballots would be a burden on local election officials. Coleman’s side said otherwise.

If there are specific ballots in question, they can be retrieved, but not all 11,000, Lillehaug argued.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Denise Reilly, acting as the presiding judge today, seemed to be siding with Lillehaug when she asked Langdon, “Have you worked in municipal government?”

The implication being that gathering all the ballots and shipping them would be a major effort by strapped local officials.

On another matter, Coleman’s side wants three inspectors, as soon as possible, to examine voting rolls and lists of the ballots counted in 86 targeted precincts to make sure there was no double counting in. “If you have more votes than voters, you know there is not an accurate count,” said Coleman lawyer and spokesman Ben Ginsberg.

But Elias argued that Coleman was changing the rules on counting the originals and alleged duplicates. And that his inspection procedure – proposed today – came too late in the process.

The three-inspector group in each precinct would include partisans from each campaign and a neutral observer.

Franken’s side says this request should have been made weeks ago, what with the full-blown trial set to start Monday … assuming Judges Kurt Marben, Elizabeth Hadyn and Reilly don’t dismiss it before then.

Trimble said that, in principle, all 2.9 million votes in the Senate race could be recounted, but later, other Coleman lawyers said that’s not what they’re seeking.

On these matters of gathering the absentee ballots and inspecting the voter rolls, Judge Reilly said the panel would have a ruling by the end of business today.

The judges will begin issuing their rulings with this burden, as stated by Trimble: “We bring everything to you and the Minnesota electorate depends on you for that purified result.”

It’s the Franken position that the three-judge panel’s role is limited to re-examining the work of the State Canvassing Board, which said Franken earned 225 more votes than Coleman. As for irregularities in the electoral process, at this point that should be determined by the U.S. Senate Rules Committee, Franken’s side says.

Surprise! There’s another hearing Friday on more pre-trial motions.