Record tight Franken-Coleman race heads for a recount

November 06, 2008 by susan
Al and Franni Franken, laughing

My my, what a surreal two days it's been. The ether is just starting to wear off, the weather is finally doing the grey thing it does in Minnesota November (but gratefully held off until 80% of us had voted, once again leading the nation in voter turnout), the world has given up its tension in one collective exhale -- and Al Franken's senate race has gone into a recount. Read about it here.

This is an agonizing way to finish such a long hard-fought campaign, and my heart goes out to Al and his family, particularly Franni, his perpetual-motion-machine of a wife who has campaigned by his side every step of the way. By election day she was already a bundle of frayed nerves, running on smokes (it's true) and coffee. Hang in there Ms. Franni -- and all the rest of you as well. Yes we can -- too

The Franken campaign's communications director has sent out an update on the nuts and bolts of the recount, and rather than try to rephrase it, I'll paste it in below.

But the basic numbers thing is this: Norm leads by 330 votes out of 2.9 million votes cast, a record one one-hundredth of one percent! It takes one-half of one percent to trigger the state's automatic recount law.

And the basic Norm thing is this: He's declared victory and suggested that Al should not waste taxpayers' money with a recount, either not knowing MN law, or intentionally misleading people. Knowing Norm's tendency to victimhood and distortions, I'd say it's the latter.

In a later post I'll write about what effect third party candidates, specifically Dean Barkley, had on this outcome. But exit polls show that Barkley took 30% of Al's votes and 25% of Norm's, giving Franken roughly 22,000 more votes than Norm. Don't get me started. Whoops, too late, can't stop. Barkely's a schlubby cigar chompin' lard ass, who sits back pretending he's above the fray, but what he really is is out of the fight. He's his own imaginary best friend. He passes for a nice guy and says he's a moderate, but he calls Antonin Scalia the sort of supreme court justice he'd like to see on the bench.

Anyway, here's the deal on the recount. And yeah, send money.

The process
Right now, each of Minnesota's 87 counties are conducting a canvass (or review) of the election results. Each county will have completed its canvass by the middle of next week. Then, within a few days of its canvass, each county will do a "post-election review," which is a spot-check of the machine results of a few precincts in the county.

By November 11, each County Canvassing Board must certify the results of the election. Within a week of that date (November 18), the State Canvassing Board will certify the results. Once that happens, the Secretary of State will begin the recount, which is expected to last for several weeks.

Key points
• The race is the closest Senate race in Minnesota history and the closest race anywhere in the country this year; it is too close to call, and we do not yet know who won.
• The recount is an automatic process used in Minnesota to determine with certainty the outcomes of extremely close races.
• Candidates don't get to decide when an election has been decided - voters do.
• The recount will be orderly, fair, and conducted with one goal: To ensure that every vote is properly counted.
• We may have to wait a little while to learn who won the election, but we will know that the voice of the electorate was clearly heard.

How close is this race?
With 2.9 million votes cast, there's a margin of around 330 votes. That's one one-hundredth of one percent (.01%) of the vote. An automatic recount is triggered by a margin of one-half of one percent (.5%) of the vote.

Precedent for Recounts Overturning Results This Close

* In the 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington, Christine Gregoire trailed by 261 votes after the initial count. After a recount, she won by 133 votes.
• Two years ago, Allen Mitchell led Melanie Ford by 53 votes (out of around 80,000 cast) in the St. Louis County Attorney's race. After an automatic recount, Ford won by 88 votes.
• And, of course, in 1962, the governor's race between Elmer L. Anderson and Karl Rolvaag went to a recount.

What is the Franken campaign doing?
We're assembling a team of supporters, staff, and legal counsel to make sure that this recount is conducted fairly and every vote is counted properly.

What about irregularities?
Our office and the Obama campaign have received reports of possible irregularities from around the state. Some reports may turn out to be without merit; others may be of serious consequence. Our team looks into every report we receive, and we will continue to do so.

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lilalia (not verified) | November 7, 2008 - 2:53am

80%! Good for you guys! There was so much money spent in the election, they can just go and spend some more to make sure (hopefully) Mr. Franken gets in. Please keep us updated. At least this postpones the withdrawal symptoms of politic mania we all have been indulging in for months.


susan | November 10, 2008 - 1:21am

Thanks lilalia. As of today the total is down again -- 220, I think -- and Norm went to court to block the release of 32 absentee ballots from Minneapolis that hadn't been counted. The judge ruled against him. I was with a bunch of political junkies tonight, and they were telling me that they think this recount could take months, not weeks. Norm is not shy about using legal maneuvers to stall and block things. And, Al is trying to raise $3 million (!) to pay for his own legal team, so this will drag on and on. What my junkies didn't know was what happens if it still isn't decided by Jan. 20 and the next session. Does anyone out there know this?