Monday, November 17, 2008
It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
Franken/Coleman contest will come down to the wire
When the ballots were counted in the 4 November Senatorial contest between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democrat challenger Al Franken, Coleman managed a very narrow victory.
So narrow, in fact, that Minnesota state law mandated an automatic recount.
The results of that recount -- and, barring any legal action on behalf of either candidate -- will be announced tomorrow.
Until that happens, AlterNet's Scott Rafferty offers numerous reasons why he insists Franken will emerge victorious in the contest. They are (in short) as follows:
-Minnesota only uses hand-marked paper ballots, leaving for fewer opportunities for electoral fraud. The notorious "hanging chad" is also not in play in this particular contest.
-The optical scanners used to count ballots also allow for voters to correct a potentially spoiled ballot before it's even cast.
-In Minnesota, every vote counts. Even if a particular ballot mark doesn't necessarily fall within the officially mandated standards, manual counters will honour it as a sign of intent on the voter's behalf.
-Courts in Minnesota require solid proof of electoral fraud before a box of ballots is discarded.
-Minnesota's ballots are single-page ballots, and are designed with simplicity in mind. You don't need to be able to follow a treasure map to pirate gold to vote in Minnesota.
-The hand-counting verification of a cast ballot allows for clumsily-corrected ballots to be examined and, if at all possible, counted.
-According to Rafferty, studies have shown Democrat voters to be more prone to the kind of errors that would result in an otherwise-discarded ballot being counted.
-The optical scanning machines used in Minnesota still have a 0.2 rate of error, even with perfectly-marked ballots. A hand recount will inevitably reveal a number of these ballots.
-461 voters in Minneapolis whose absentee ballots were discarded due to seeming signature discrepancies may yet have their ballots counted, if Al Franken's legal team get their way in court.
Of course, Rafferty provides few compelling reasons why a good number of these factors couldn't swing in Coleman's favour rather than Franken's.
But even if he's incorrect, in a contest this close it doesn't take much of a margin of error on Rafferty's behalf for Franken to still emerge the victor.
Which will certainly be a sad day for comedy. But then again, American voters can likely still count on Franken to crack a joke or two on Capitol Hill.