Democrat Al Franken has launched a door-to-door campaign in Minnesota to gather affidavits from voters and use them to defeat GOP incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman.
Franken presented on Thursday 62 affidavits from Minnesota citizens who stated that their votes for Franken were improperly rejected. In past elections, such affidavits have all but forced election officials to count the votes in question.
Franken’s maneuver comes on the eve of a crucial meeting of the five-member Canvassing Board to decide the fate of absentee ballots. Local election officials throughout the state ruled that more than 12,000 absentee ballots were incorrectly filled out or otherwise were invalid.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune characterized Franken’s affidavits as “the latest attempt by the campaign to increase the pressure on the board to count absentee ballots that were improperly rejected.”
The Franken push includes a six-minute YouTube video portraying emotional appeals by voters who say their absentee ballots were improperly disqualified. One of the voters in the video is bedridden, another is recovering from heart surgery, and a third is a newly naturalized citizen who says he feels disenfranchised.
Coleman characterized the video as “shameless exploitation” intended to manipulate the election’s outcome, and a “new low” in Minnesota politics.
So far Coleman has maintained a consistent, razor-thin advantage. Both the Nov. 4 vote tally and the subsequent recount show that Coleman won the election. The affidavits presented by Franken would wipe out nearly a third of Coleman’s current 192-vote lead if accepted, however.
“What Franken’s doing is legal,” Wall Street Journal commentator and author John Fund tells Newsmax. “He’s not stealing the information. But it’s unethical. For example, you’ll notice he didn’t turn in any votes for Coleman. That shows he’s only interested in winning the election.”
Fund, author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, tells Newsmax that some county election officials in Minnesota are releasing the lists of local voters who requested absentee ballots. Franken supporters are contacting absentee voters to find out who they voted for and whether their absentee ballot was rejected. Those voters are being asked to sign an affidavit stating that they cast their ballot for Franken.
Fund says Franken’s maneuver is very similar to what occurred in the Washington state governor’s race in 2004. In that contest, both the Election Day result and the subsequent recount showed that Republican Dino Rossi narrowly won the election over Democrat Christine Gregoire.
When additional “found” ballots were added into a third vote count, however, Gregoire won. Eventually, she was certified the winner by 133 votes.
“The problem with absentee ballots is that they are public records,” Fund tells Newsmax. “They shouldn’t be, but each state government has a right to decide whether to make public the fact that someone applied for an absentee ballot. Some do and some don’t. But that’s the problem with absentee ballots, they take away some of the anonymity that goes with a regular vote.”
Coleman campaign spokesman Luke Friedrich e-mailed Newsmax the following response to the Franken video and affidavit: "We are standing behind the law on how recounts should be conducted and against efforts to change the rules when they don't suit your needs.
“We have consistently stated that every legally cast and counted ballot should be re-counted,” Friedrich adds. “The Franken campaign has made it abundantly clear that they could care less about the outcome of the recount and are instead focusing their energies on fighting the results of the election through the court system or by taking the issue to the floor of the United States Senate.”
If the election is close and Coleman is certified the winner, the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate could launch an investigation into the Minnesota election process, which could delay or even reverse the outcome.
A Franken victory would give Democrats 59 seats in the Senate, meaning Democrats would only need to find one Republican to cross the aisle in order to pass the new president’s ambitious legislative agenda.
The State Canvassing Board will convene Friday to decide whether absentee ballots deemed to have been improperly excluded on Election Day should be added back into the state’s vote totals.
Another outstanding issue: The approximately 6,000 challenges to individual ballots that have been filed. The Canvassing Board will meet Dec. 16 to rule on those ballots, and is expected to certify a winner later this month.
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