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Coleman-Franken recount trial: Money pours in, but like ‘Groundhog Day’ film, testimony covers familiar ground

The most expensive Senate race of 2008 is over, but the expensive Senate recount trial continues.

Both recount committees for Norm Coleman and Al Franken filed new fundraising documents with the Federal Elections Committee Friday.

Go here and type in Coleman and then Franken to get to the full documents. There are recount committees and still-active campaign committees.

Briefly, the filings only take us through the end of 2008. Franken raised about $1.9 million between Nov. 25 and Dec. 31. Coleman’s recount committee only raised about $460,000 in that period, but had $1.9 million in cash on hand when 2008 turned into 2009.

Not all the specifics of payouts are available yet; such as, how much each side has paid for lawyers. That document should be available soon, according to an FEC spokeswoman.

But it’s sort of neat to look at the names on the donor lists.

For Franken, filmmaker Rob Reiner and songwriter Burt Bacharach were there. Coleman’s contributors weren’t as glamorous, but included George W. Bush political guru Karl Rove.

MPR produced a good story this afternoon.

As for the trial, it sure felt like last Thursday and last Friday. Appropriately, sort of like that movie “Groundhog Day.” The days of this trial are, for the layperson, getting a bit repetitive.

St. Paul elections chief Joe Mansky was on for about four hours, walking lawyers from both sides through the absentee ballot process … some more. As he did last week, he testified to the care of election officials and to the inevitable mistakes — if a handful – that humans can make.

He said that “.999” percent of votes cast with machines are counted accurately. He said “.995” percent of absentee ballots were processed correctly.

But, when a candidate wins by “200 votes, the margin of error in our computation is large enough” to create the spot where we stand today … in court after six days of testimony and nary a decision from the judges on how to narrow the scope of absentee ballots that the Coleman side wants re-evaluated and, mostly, counted.

For Coleman’s side, Mansky “proved” that some valid votes weren’t counted and that different counties processed absentee ballots differently.

For Franken’s side, a key issue during the contest has been to show the three-judge panel that, unfortunately, many voters simply didn’t follow the rules when it came to filling out absentee ballot applications and ballots. And that there should be a presumption that election officials performed fairly and accurately.

Some day soon, Judges Kurt Marben, Elizabeth Hayden and Denise Reilly will narrow the scope of the absentee ballot universe. When and to what size remains the mystery. Coleman wants 11,000 to 12,000 examined. Franken’s more in the 1,400 vote range.

Until then, Tuesday – when some more voters will tell their stories for Coleman’s side — could be just like Monday, another Groundhog Day at the Minnesota Judicial Center.

As for how long this will go on … we’re not sure if any of the lawyers saw his shadow as he entered the courtroom this morning.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 02/03/2009 - 12:32 am.

    What is Coleman trying to prove by bringing in all these individual voters who were rejected, some rightly some wrongly. Everything that happened to them is already known because Franken dug up the problem and successfully brought it to the courts. Is Coleman trying to say all rejections were wrong? This from the same party that keeps harping on imaginary voter fraud?

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