Republican Lawyers Slam Minn. Recount Procedures

Monday, 05 Jan 2009 03:43 PM

By Jim Meyers

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The Republican National Lawyers Association has issued a detailed report sharply critical of the Minnesota Senate recount, which is poised to award victory to Democrat Al Franken over incumbent Republican Norm Coleman.

“It is the RNLA’s goal that legal voters — not lawyers, election officials, or courts — should decide elections,” the RNLA states on its Web site.

“Recent decisions in the Minnesota Senate recount cast that in serious doubt. Particularly troubling are the actions of the Franken campaign to disenfranchise non-Franken voters and the actions of the Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

“Ritchie and his office have made a number of extremely dubious decisions during the recount, all of which favor Franken.”

Among the many assertions in the RNLA report:

  • The canvas — a process to resubmit the vote totals from election night from local precincts to a central location -- found errors favoring Franken so statistically improbable that statisticians are questioning the officials in several counties.

  • During the recount an election official said that an error resulted in Franken losing votes when a precinct double counted some votes on election night. But after pressure from Democrats led the official to change her story, the Mark Ritchie-led Canvassing Board decided that the recount would instead use the Election Day total, which was more favorable to Franken.

  • A Ramsey County precinct ended up with 177 more ballots than there were recorded votes on Election Night. In that case, the board decided to go with the extra ballots, rather than the Election Night total, even though the county is now showing more ballots than voters in the precinct. This gave Mr. Franken a net gain of 37 votes.

  • Double votes were counted for Franken. Damaged ballots couldn't be fed through optical scanners, and under Minnesota law, election judges must copy such ballots, mark the copies as duplicates and count them, and keep the originals. Coleman argued that both originals and duplicates made it into the recount, and his attorneys went to court when the Canvassing Board ruled against him on those ballots.

  • On rejected absentee ballots, Franken refused “to meaningfully participate in the process to review them,” according to the RNLA, while the Secretary of State’s office sought to “disenfranchise military voters.”

  • Incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Texas Senator John Cornyn declared: "Al Franken is falsely declaring victory based on an artificial lead created on the back of the double counting of ballots. His campaign's actions in the last several days on the issues of rejected absentee ballots are creating additional chaos and disorder in the Minnesota recount.”

  • Senate Rules Chair Charles Schumer of New York was quoted as saying: "With the Minnesota recount complete, it is now clear that Al Franken won the election … and while there are still possible legal issues that will run their course, there is no longer any doubt who will be the next Senator from Minnesota." The RNLA asserts that Schumer “should recuse himself from any Senate Rules Committee hearings on the race.”

    The RNLA quotes a Minnesota-based Republican blogger: “The bottom line is that the recount has shown how flawed the election process is in Minnesota and a legal challenge to the recount process will provide further important analysis on how we can strengthen the integrity of our elections.

    “Team Franken is filled with east-coast transplants and Washington D.C. staffers who parachuted into Minnesota to work on Franken’s campaign. I don’t believe they have any credible connection to Minnesotan and therefore won’t concern themselves with Minnesota voters being disenfranchised. They will trample the rights of voters without any hesitation to get Franken seated in the U.S. Senate.”

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