According to news reports, the Minnesota Election Contest Judicial Panel finished their review of votes, counting just under 400 absentee ballots that were previous excluded. These votes were included as the result of Former Senator Norm Coleman's legal challenge to the election. With Senator Al Franken's lead over Former Senator Norm Coleman rising from 225 at the start of the process to 312 as of a few moments ago, it would appear that Coleman's challenge has backfired.
The judicial panel still has a few more issues to rule on.
One of the issues os the ca 130 votes that were lost in a Minneapolis precinct. It was previously decided that the machine count, rather than the hand recount, stand in for this set of votes. Even if the votes were thrown out, it would only change the current count by a small amount.
Another outstanding issue is the assertion by the Coleman challenge that some votes were double counted. Again, if this ruling went in favor of Coleman, it would not change the total count too much.
It is estimated that if these two rulings both went Coleman's way, he would gain fewer than 100 votes.
Coleman is planning to appeal the outcome of the 3 judge panel's decision in the Minnesota Supreme Court. In that appeal he is expected to argue that many more absentee votes be counted. Even if that were to occur, it is not expected to change the outcome of the election, but it will delay the seating of Senator Franken in Washington. It is now widely accepted that the Coleman challenge and subsequent appeals are nothing more than a bald faced attempt to delay the seating of Democratic Senator Franken, as an overall Republican effort to block the Obama Agenda.
Sources: NPR, WCCO
So when will the Senate go ahead and seat Franken? Certainly no later than a ruling by the State appeals court. Pawlenty is certainly in no hurry to do his job and I am starting to think it will ultimately be up to the senate to seat him without the governor's certification.
Surely any election process in a single state which goes on this long can only be described (kindly) as dysfunctional ...
At some point the governor might be compelled to act as was the case in Illinois with Burris where the SOS was forced to act.
Can the Senate actually "seat" someone who hasn't been "sent" by the State? That wouldn't make sense. A given State isn't obligated to send anyone to Congress, are they? Couldn't a State simply boycott Congress? It would mean that State gets no voice in the legislative process, but that would be the decision they choose to make. But if the Senate can "seat" someone not "sent" by the State, presumably the Senate could seat anyone, either from that State or not. Surely that isn't possible.
The 3 State phases are: General Election, Election Contest, and the State Supreme Court Appeal. After that the Secretary of State will issue an election certificate "Certifying" the winner.
Then it gets' murky. Republicans say that the Governor is not obligated to sign the election certificate until after ALL appeals are through. However, the Judges ruling on this election have "hinted" through their rulings that the STATE can and should issue a certified election certificate prior to any appeal to the US Courts.
This "puts" Pawlenty in an awkward spot. He either plays politics, refuses to sign off on the election, keeping Minnesota with one Senator, keeping the Democrats at 58, and needing 2 Republicans to switch over.
Or he signs off on a certified election. This is what I think he will do, despite recently saying that this election could drag out for *months*. ...
We need the Judges to finish the case. They are clearly being diligent, thorough, and are going to make it very difficult for any other Court to overturn their decisions.