Check back later today for updates and analysis from Jay Weiner on the Senate recount proceedings involving Norm Coleman and Al Franken.
1:54 p.m. – So much for a long, drawn-out meeting
Adds Lillehaug: “There was controversy over Bush versus Gore . . . but there is no controversy over equal protection,” he said.
The equal protection notion is that voters who cast their choice via absentee ballot have the same voting rights as those who physically went to the polls on Nov. 4.
“Their votes should count, and they should count now,” Lillehaug said.
Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson wonders if they can delay their decision on the absentee ballots.
Lillehaug has no objection.
Knaak makes a three-minute rebuttal to Lillehaug, saying the recount should go on.
“We are good and ready to start the recount process,” he said. “There is no precedent for what’s being requested of this body by the Franken campaign,” he says.
We see no reason why a different procedure SHOULD be used.
Knaak, however, also has no objection to a delay in the decision.
Chief Justice Magnuson moves that a recount plan be approved.
Ramsey County Court Judge Kathleen Gearin moves that board recess to further consider Franken motion.
“We got the fax 10 minutes” before they entered today, she says.
Ritchie allows that such a recess could be a few days or a week.
By 1:54, much anticipated meeting ends with nary a bang.
The Herculean struggle never occurs.
Democracy moves on, and now the recount begins.
1:37 p.m. – Al Franken’s lawyer speaking
David Lillehaug says: “I am not here to urge any delay in the recount.”
He reasserts Franken campaign position that rejected absentee ballots should be counted.
He cites 1962 Minnesota governor recount and 1988 Redwood Falls School Board race.
We’re asking you to canvass and count valid absentee ballots,” he says.
He notes four affidavits submitted Monday.
“These are real people who did everything right . . . Can’t we all agree that they shouldn’t have to start a law suit or wait for somebody else to start a lawsuit until their votes are counted?”
He says to the board: “You have the power to get to the truth.”
1:14 p.m. – The Numbers Guy
Gary Poser, director of elections for the secretary of state’s office, goes over the mind-numbing details of each election. If there were a lineup and you were asked — without any previous knowledge — which guy was the director of elections . . . you know, the guy with the calculator and the sharpest pencil . . . you would pick out Gary Poser.
In his first review of the Franken-Coleman race, he says the election is separated by 206 votes, as long reported. After an audit of the machines, Coleman picked up 25 votes and Franken 16, making the spread 215 votes.
The numbers shout, “RECOUNT!”
1:06 p.m. – Praise from the chairman
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie praises “the gift of democracy” and reads the law creating the Canvassing Board.
He calls the meeting to order.
Here’s the link to the Pioneer Press story detailing the Franken action today.
12:57 p.m. – Just about to start, and already a News Flash.
Room 10 of the State Office Building has been the home to many legislative hearings.
It seats, perhaps, 150 spectators. At the front of the room are shiny wood tables with high-backed leather seats. Its walls are wood-paneled.
By 12:45, the room was about half full, not as packed as I expected.
The principals have arrived, Franken lawyer David Lillehaug and Coleman lawyer Fritz Knaak.
Some average citizens are here, but, again, not as many as I expected.
There is the normal pre-hearing buzz of expectation.
A row of TV cameras is blocking the head table where the Canvassing Board is set to, perhaps, certify a recount.
NEWS FLASH: The Franken campaign has filed a pre-hearing memo with the board officially telling the board it can’t go forward with election certification without including rejected absentee ballots.
The first official release of the event has been tossed out by the Coleman campaign, noting, “The Franken Campaign’s scorched earth legal strategy is now fully in view for all Minnesotans.”
So much for the pre-game show. Three minutes to the gavel . . .