Coleman’s Campaign Vows New Challenge

Posted December 24, 2008 at 4:27pm

On the heels of losing his plea to the state Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon, attorneys for Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) said they plan to contest the November election results in court early next year if a double-voting issue is not resolved and the Republican still trails in the recount.

Coleman attorneys Tony Trimble and Fritz Knaak said their lawsuit would effectively stop Minnesota from certifying the results in January, and potentially leave the Gopher State without a Senator for the first month of 2009. Coleman currently trails comedian Al Franken (D) by 47 votes, with as many as 1,600 wrongfully rejected absentee ballots yet to be added to the final count.

“The decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court today virtually guarantees two things in this recount,” Knaak said in a statement. “One: it ensures that there will be an election contest because Minnesotans simply will not support an election as close as this being decided by some votes being counted twice. Two: this ensures that no certificate of election will be issued due to an election contest inevitably being filed, leaving Minnesota without two sitting United States Senators on January 6th.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday against Coleman’s petition to stop the ballot counting until the double votes were calculated and withdrawn from the recount. Double voting occurs when both damaged ballots and their duplicate copies are counted in voting totals — a situation which, according to Coleman, occurred in at least 150 cases that overwhelmingly benefited Franken.

Franken’s campaign, which has maintained that Coleman has no proof that double voting occurred, welcomed Wednesday’s court ruling.

“Minnesotans have waited a long time to find out who won this race — and today’s unanimous ruling means that the process can move forward despite attempts to halt its progress and cast doubt on the result,” Franken Communications Director Andy Barr said. “Now we approach the end of a recount that Minnesotans can be proud of — and one that we strongly believe will result in the election of Al Franken.”

There are still an estimated 1,600 wrongfully rejected absentee ballots scheduled to be counted and added to the recount total next week. Franken’s campaign is confident that Coleman would have to win a disproportionate number of those ballots to take the lead. Coleman’s campaign, meanwhile, said it was unclear whether those ballots could boost their totals.