Minnesota: Coleman Wins Court Victory in Recount Saga

Posted February 4, 2009 at 6:13pm

Former Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R) campaign got a break Tuesday when judges ruled that up to 4,800 previously uncounted ballots may be presented in court. Coleman is contesting the results of the statewide Senate recount in his 2008 race with Democrat Al Franken, who leads by 225 votes.

Coleman had pushed to permit a pool of 4,800 previously uncounted absentee ballots for examination in court — and potentially eventually added to the recount if the ballots were indeed wrongfully rejected. The ruling also ensures that the court case will last for many months as prosecutors go through these ballots, leaving Minnesota with a single Senator for the foreseeable future.

Coleman’s campaign rejoiced at the news that more ballots could be added to the final tally.

“This is a victory for thousands of Minnesotans whose rejected absentee ballots will now be properly reviewed in this election,” Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsburg said in a statement.

The three-judge panel, however, also issued a second court order that could potentially limit how many of the 4,800 can be presented in court. The panel also ruled that these votes may not be permitted in court under the equal projection argument, but instead Coleman’s campaign must prove the absentee ballots were wrongfully rejected on their own merits.

“It’s useful to know what the limitations that have been placed on Coleman’s case are,” Franken recount attorney Marc Elias said in a statement. “As you know, it’s been an expanding universe, and a contracting universe, and a re-expanding universe. That universe has now come to a defined place. We now know the scope of ballots they will be permitted to argue from.”