It is very interesting to watch the Canvasing board … the Minnesota Secretary of State, a Supreme Court Justice or two, and so on, going over every single one of the challenged ballots.

The way they seem to be doing this is this: They are going through all of the Franken Challenges first. The Coleman challenges have to wait because Coleman’s people fucked up their removal of some of the challenged ballots so their ballots will not be ready until tomorrow. So, they go to each ballot, and it seems that Ritchie makes a move to reject the challenge each and every time, and then the other people have to vote in favor of the rejection (aye) or to maintain the challenge (nay). Then there is a certain amount of discussion and then they decide.

Right now they are looking at a Coleman vote that is a clear Coleman vote, but the voter clearly, and stupidly, put initials on the ballot identifying him/herself. That is clearly under the law a rejection. Let’s se what they do…

… Two for two on the motion of rejecting the challenge, and Ritchie changed the motion a little bit. Then another vote, two for two against, Ritchie breaks the tie and the challenge is rejected.

Hey Ritchie WTF???????????

The next one is a clear case .. filled in but also an X over the bubble.

OOOH OOOH One of the famous ballots is up now, one of the one’s that’s been on the tonight show and stuff!

Coleman and Franken both filled in, but Coleman is crossed out. Just like the last one where Coleman was crossed out but they gave it to Coleman.

OK, that one goes to Franken. Good job.

Don’t worry, I’m not really going to live blog the whole thing. Just making a few observations.

At this point, with the canvassing board going over these votes for the last four hours, even with a couple of breaks, they are getting quite giddy. Now they what how the good citizens, election judges and partisan volunteers alike, went through! (I quickly add that Secretly of State Ritchie has been there the whole time with this recount thing, moving from location to location, dealing with the press and the canddiates lawyers, etc.) This is not helped by the fact that most of the time they are often using double negatives.

Ah, the supreme court judge (I think) noticed they were getting giddy and asked for five minutes. So moved!!!!

Anyway, they have statements like this:

“I move to reject the challenge and affirm that the election judges decision that this is a Coleman vote” or “I move to reject the challenge and affirm the election judges’ decision that this is an overvote.”

Then, if the motion is accepted, they move on, and if it is not, then they have another motion “I move that this vote be allocated to Candidate Franken” or whatever.


… Well the big famous guys in suits have figured out that they were doin’ it wrong and that there was a somewhat more efficient way to do this . They are still not doing it the most efficent way possible (not even close). Hey, if you had a couple of historic archaeologists in there telling them how to do it they’d be done by now, no kidding.

So, they are looking at the original ballots instead of copies, because they are always being asked to see the original anyway. But the motion – making thing they are doing is totally slowing them down.

See, like this. This is what they are doing:

I would move the rejection of the challenge and the affirmation of the elction judge, and the allocation of this vote to senator Coleman.

We have a problem with this one … ah … look at this…

My motion is to reject the challenge. All in favor aye …


All opposed, same sign

aye aye aye aye aye

OK, in that case I move the rejection of this ballot for identifying marks. All those in favor of the motion signify …

Aye aye aye


This is one with possible identifying mark. Is there an identifying mark that invalidates the ballot?

yes yes yes

Next ballot!

See? Wasn’t that easy?

My analysis so far: The original plan that there was going to be a shift of a net 200 votes towards Franken is not going to happen. There are a number that I’m pretty sure went the wrong way, like one I just watched: A clear over vote given to Coleman. So there is more uncertainty in the process now than there was this morning.

It is also kind of scary that some of the members of the board do not udnerstand the process at all.

At the moment, there are a few ballots being looked at that are clear Franken votes, and there are members who are saying “why is this a challenge. … oh, this must be a Coleman challenge” (but we know there are no Coleman challenges being looked at today)…. so a staff member jumps in and explains that these ballots are “special circumstance” ballots. Which they are not.

Now, the Franken lawer jumps up and tells them the truth … these are not special circumstance ballots. These are ballots that were in the “other” pile that the challenges have brought back into the Franken pile.

More confusion, less understanding, a bit of panic, some giddiness. Now they’ve totally lost track of what they are doing. Man, they should just let the Franken people handle this.

If only the judges would shut up and let the staff members and the Franken lawyer take over……


  1. #1 idahogie
    December 16, 2008

    Regarding your suggestion to speed up the process:

    I think there’s something to be said for a methodical process that is transparent and that has some added weight toward the original vote tally. There should be an affirmative declaration by the board that any challenge has merit.

    I like the initial motion that Ritchie makes for each ballot. And 95% of the time, it resolves the issue, anyway.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 16, 2008

    I agree that the methodical tranparent part is good. What they are doing wrong, though, is sticking to the specific dictum that they address the challenge itself leaglistically. So it suddenly becomes important that the ballot was originally an overvote vs orignally a coleman vote, when in the end, it is obviously (for example) a franken vote . In those instance, which turn out to be most of the important instances, what would have been transparent and clear becomes messy and confusing.

    I would suggest that the sec’ simply make a provisional initial decision (based on a post it placed by staff) and ask for an up or down vote. That would be transparent and open AND 300 percent faster and there would be little dicking around and confusing. Actually, the commission members could take turn proposing the most likely hypothesis. (by the hour or half hour)

    They are also screwing up the actual handling of the ballots. Staff should just be doing that … one ballot at a time, in and out.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    December 16, 2008

    I was relieved when you said you weren’t going to do the whole thing. I had way too much work this afternoon to keep hitting refresh, but I would have anyway.

  4. #4 Ana
    December 16, 2008

    This is going to take forever. At least beyond Friday, right? Tomorrow the court (partial court) rules on the Coleman challenge over the inclusion of wrongfully rejected absentees, and then it sounds like he will start crying foul over “double-counted duplicates”, and probably go to court over that too. I’m just waiting to hear that he’s going to jail, at this point.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    December 16, 2008

    Also, Ana, did you hear that some time this morning, Coleman came up with more challenges? I think/assume from what hey had pulled back .. they are putting some back in. Or maybe they are rechallenging things. Whatever. Stupid jerk.

    He’s got a purty face, though, Norm does. They’ll like him in the jail house.

  6. #6 Ahcuah
    December 17, 2008

    Somehow the scientist in me is worrying about all the bias inherent in this system.

    Shouldn’t they be doing it double blind (or something close to minimize the bias)? They should have had a group go through all the sorts of errors in the challenges, and then create sample ballots (with fake names) that illustrate the errors. The deciders then make their decisions without knowing whether they are helping either Frankin or Coleman.

    I would trust that a lot more.