Coleman brings on the lawsuit game


The bickering between Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken continued this weekend so the state will never go into election withdrawal. We've got a full-on slap fight going on here and we frankly can't make a guess on who might come out on top. Whether you find it sickening, disturbing or just plain hilarious, here is a recap of what you missed when you were out actually enjoying the blustery conditions.

The current tally? Coleman's lead is now a mere 221 votes.

As Associated Press analysis found that most of the undervote in Minnesota came from areas won by Democrat and President-elect Barack Obama, which suggests that Franken could gain more votes during a recount. An undervote means the scanners counted a vote for president, but not for a Senate candidate. This could have been on purpose, or a misread by the optical scanners.

More from the AP:

About 25,000 ballots statewide carried votes for president but not for the Senate race. Although some voters might have intentionally bypassed the race, others might have mismarked their ballot, or optical scanning machines might have misread them.

Three counties -- Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis, which contain the population centers of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth -- account for 10,540 votes in the dropoff between the presidential race and the Senate race. Each saw Obama win with 63 percent or more of the vote.

Statewide, more than 18,000 of those ballots came from counties won by Obama. About 6,100 were in counties won by Republican John McCain.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie spoke out against the Coleman campaign's questioning of the election process integrity.

According to the Pioneer Press:

He said the campaign was trying to "put a cloud" over the election by making provocative charges.

"It's a well-known political strategy," Ritchie said. "If someone wants to accuse county elections officials of partisan activity, they'd better be ready to back it up."

On Saturday morning, Coleman's campaign asked a Ramsey County judge to stop the counting of 32 absentee ballots in Minnesota, according to the Pioneer Press.

Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin rejected the Coleman campaign's request.

Gearin's order said the Coleman campaign's request was rejected because of "lack of jurisdiction."

The order said if a lawsuit is filed to contest the election, it should be filed in Ramsey County and sent to the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, who would then assign three judges to hear the case.

"At this time, there has been no election contest lawsuit filed by anyone," she said.

Read the full injunction here.

MNPublius pointed out something interesting in the document. The filing actually asks the judge to stop all counting of ballots after midnight on Election Day:

Distilling that to its core: The Coleman campaign requested that the court prohibit the counting of any ballot not sealed in a ballot box by midnight on Tuesday. As someone who is familiar with Minnesota election law told me, the scope of this requested relief is "breathtaking."

Watch the Franken campaign press conference response:

Ritchie says the partisan bickering won't hinder the job ahead:

Ritchie acknowledged that his office will face pressure over the next few weeks, but pledged to resist it.

"People who are the most active have a kind of bias to want to get [results] fast," he said of the recount. "Election administrators have a bias for wanting it correct, transparent and trusted. We know there will be pressure for fast, faster, get it done. We will not be swayed by those demands."