Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Recount in Minnesota for the U.S. Senate

You can call it dead-even right now and we won’t know more ‘til January!
by Charlie Leck

Every state in the nation has two U.S. Senators, EXCEPT, of course, Minnesota. Right now Amy Klobuchar is our only U.S. Senator for the 111th U.S. Congress, which begins at noon on 3 January 2009. She’s a mighty fine legislator, but we need another one in the Senate.

It is likely that we will not know, even at the beginning of the session, who our second U.S. Senator is (or will be) because the recount of the November 4th election will still be going on. It’s getting close to the end, but those involved don’t feel it can be finalized and accomplished and certified by the time the Congress goes into session. As a matter of fact, it is quite possible that the upcoming U.S. Senate may have to decide this issue.

There are a number of contested ballots to be checked over. These are ballots challenged by the Senator Coleman team and so it is likely that they are basically cast for challenger, Al Franken. He’ll get most of those votes. The ballots that the Franken organization challenged are already counted.

Then there are a number of absentee ballots that were originally incorrectly disqualified. Both sides are in agreement that they should not have been disqualified. For whom did they vote? We won’t know until they are carefully opened and inspected by the recounters.

With the count essentially dead-even, the election could go either way, but there are whispers from friends pretty deep in the Party that “Al is gonna win!”

Then, when a winner is declared by the Secretary of State, you can bet there will be legal challenges that will go on for a long time.

In the meantime, Minnesota is the only state in the nation represented by only one Senator.

Oh, forgive me, someone just reminded me about Illinois, New York and Alaska. Those states, however, will likely have Senators appointed by the opening of the session. Minnesota probably will not.

Andrew Sullivan wrote on his blog, the Daily Dish, for The Atlantic:

“What’s taking so long in Minnesota? They are having 10 minute conversations about the existence of Lizard People. As of last night Coleman was citing a 2 vote lead. Now Frankin appears to be up for the first time.”
And, on the same blog, Nate Silver guessed:

“I’m now projecting a Franken lead of more like 70 votes, which would bring my numbers closely in line with the Star Tribune’s estimate.”
Jeff Fecke, on the Blog of the Moderate Left, tries to answer the question about what happens if nobody wins by the opening of the session.

Joel Stein in the December 13th Time Magazine sang the praises of Minnesota’s steady determination to count every ballot and of its blatant honesty.

“What if the 2000 presidential election had hinged not on a diverse, messy, weird and slightly creepy hick state like Florida but on the most organized, practical and cordial one in the Union: Minnesota? What if, instead of going to court after court over hanging chads and butterfly ballots and whether a recount should happen, election officials had just calmly looked at each ballot and tried to figure out what the voter wanted?”
He wasn’t so kind to voters, but pretty clever, and probably correct, when he wrote:

“If it had been Minnesota instead of Florida in 2000, this is what we would have found out: Voters are idiots. You make a clear, statewide ballot with neat little ovals to fill in? Some voters will put in check marks and X's. They'll fill out two ovals. They'll mark one candidate's oval in ink, try to erase that mark and then put their initials next to their correction, even though there's a law on the books forbidding voters to sign their ballots, to prevent voter bribing. They'll scrawl something about taxes in that oval, or about lizard people. You spend enough time trying to figure out the intentions of some voters, and you'll learn their real intention is to be put into special care.

“This is what democracy comes to. It's sloppy and human…”
If you really don’t have a life, you can actually watch the state canvassing board doing their work live! That’s right! You did not hear me incorrectly. You can watch the recount live. That seems whacky! Yet, there actually are people who are doing it, as excitedly as if it were a Packers/Vikings game, and keeping their own tallies in their living rooms. You people in Colorado, North Carolina and Georgia have got to realize it gets really cold up here in the winter.

To further prove to you how cold it gets up here and what that chill get do to the human brain, I’ll conclude with one more quotation from Stein’s article:

“All the sensible, civic-minded spirit doesn't guarantee the losing camp won't sue when it's all over. But Minnesota law, which was perfected after a gubernatorial recount in 1962, has a plan in case of a dead tie: a coin flip. The state already did one this year for a school-board seat in Farmington. Ritchie has been looking around for a good coin for the Coleman-Franken race; he says the quarter with Minnesota on the back is the way to go. 'I was watching Leatherheads, the football movie, and you realize there are angles on coin-tossing as well. Who flips it? Who calls it?' By next year, rest assured, Minnesota will have the best coin-flipping law anywhere.”
It got down to 13 below two nights ago. Today they’re calling for at least six inches of snow. It’ll be a white Christmas. What a strange year!


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