Voters: Yes on absentee ballots, No on legal challenge

December 8th, 2008 – 10:20 AM by Kevin Duchschere

Minnesota voters agree with DFLer Al Franken that rejected absentee ballots should be reviewed. But they don’t think that the candidate who loses the U.S. Senate recount should challenge it in court, even if they think the process was unfair.

That’s according to a SurveyUSA poll commissioned by KSTP-TV, which was released last night by Channel 5′s top political reporter Tom Hauser.

The poll found that voters think Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has done a better job of handling the recount of the U.S. Senate race. And the early controversy over whether Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a DFLer, was too partisan to ensure a fair result seems to have dissipated, the poll suggests.

The poll, taken of 556 registered voters last week, shows that most respondents — 58 percent — think the recount process has been fair to both Coleman and Franken. But a few more think it’s been unfair to Coleman, 20 percent, than to Franken, 13 percent.

More voters approve of the way the Coleman campaign has handled the recount — 51 percent approve and 40 percent disapprove — while slightly more disapprove of the Franken campaign’s handling of the recount, 48 percent to 44 percent.

The one figure who comes back with glowing reviews is Ritchie, whose recount work won the approval of 61 percent and the disapproval of 26 percent.

A bare majority — 53 percent — said they have the same amount of faith in Minnesota’s electoral system. But about a third said they have less faith, while only 11 percent said they have more faith in the system.

Nearly 60 percent of the voters say absentee ballots that were rejected should be reviewed, a key piece of the Franken campaign’s strategy. Those ballots are being sorted this week, and the fate of the ones that were improperly rejected may be decided Friday by the state Canvassing Board.

On the other hand, the poll shows that most voters don’t like the prospect of a legal challenge by the candidate who loses in the recount tally. Fifty-five percent said a legal challenge shouldn’t be filed, while 40 percent said it should.

The most amusing findings came on the question of who voters would would support if the election was held today. The results: Coleman 41 percent, Franken 40 percent, Barkley 15 percent.

Just in case you don’t remember, the results on Election Day were Coleman 41.99 percent, Franken 41.98 percent, and Barkley 15.2 percent.

It’s deja vu all over again.

19 Responses to "Voters: Yes on absentee ballots, No on legal challenge"

Les says:

December 8th, 2008 at 11:13 am

If they had only asked:

“who would you vote for if a runoff were held between Coleman and Franken?”

This peice of fluff may have had some kind of value. I wasnt real happy when they suckered me into watching commercials waiting for this “news” last night.. I need my beauty sleep.

I really chuckled at the Ritchie results. true, he’s pretty much stayed out of the way, but he has yet to have to make a hard decision yet.

Dora says:

December 8th, 2008 at 1:22 pm

what kind of “hard decision” should he be making? He’s making the decisions commensurate with his authority.

He determined the makeup of the canvassing board. He sent out the communication about the “5th pile”. What else is there for him to decide unilaterally? Perhaps that’s why he’s getting high marks. He isn’t making unilateral decisions.

Les says:

December 8th, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Dont take that the wrong way.. I’m not saying he’s not doing a good job, but the fact is he hasnt had to put his foot down on anything yet.

For example, what is he going to do should the ‘dinkytown 133′ not be found soon?

What if one of the campaigns object to inclusion of some of the rejected absentee ballots?

At some point, he’s going to have to take control of the process that’s under his jurisdiction. Hopefully, he does that as well as he has handled things up to this point, and continues to follow the spirit and letter of the law.

Les says:

December 8th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I guess I stated the reason for my amusement concerning Ritchie the wrong way….

Everyone is happy with his performance so far because he really hasnt had to make a decision that hurts Coleman or Franken. A rerun of the poll after the decision is made will probably result in a lot more people being not happy with him through no fault of his own.

parthian says:

December 8th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

It’s interesting to me that Barkley’s support has supposedly stayed exactly at election day levels.

Why didn’t they ask Les’s question of the Barkleyians? The actual effect of these third parties is of crucial importance to the state’s politics, but the press seems unable to do any reporting on it. says:

December 8th, 2008 at 7:31 pm

With Mark Ritchie’s close relationship to the democrat voter fraud group ACORN, I am still wondering what shenanigans he has up he sleeve, but I guess the whole country is watching making his options limited.

Cash N. Carey says:

December 8th, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Now that the 133 votes are “lost” in Minneapolis, Franken’s hopes have evaporated. Too bad the Minneapolis lib couldn’t continue to get away with running these ballots through twice.

Looks like Franken will have to turn to the courts or the Senate to overturn the voters will.

God bless you Norm.

Les says:

December 9th, 2008 at 8:18 am


The lack of paper ballots wont keep them from using the election day figures, which would be the fairest thing to do, so I dont think Franken is going to loose those 46 votes. The margin, using the election day figures for dinkytown is only 192 votes, so we are still awaiting the results of the challenged ballots, and there are enough of them for it to go either way.

Unfortunately, Mpls giving up on those 133 ballots will give Franken an excuse to head to court if he looses, even if the margin is greater than 133 votes (allocating 100% of the missing to Franken)

Dora says:

December 9th, 2008 at 9:00 am

Sounds like the Coleman campaign is gearing up for a lawsuit since they are still denying those ballots even exist and are laughably calling it “political spin” by Franken even though election officials confirm they exist.

parthian says:

December 9th, 2008 at 10:11 am

Um, there’s no way the Mpls ballots can’t exist—there were 5 numbered envelopes, all sealed and signed by all the precinct’s election judges, and envelope “1 of 5″ is now lost. That’s what all their sworn statements will say.

Looks like the Canvassing Board will now have to decide that issue as well.

Does the StarTrib take a “position” on Coleman’s claims that the ballots don’t exist, or do they just appear in their Right-leaning stenographic “A said/B said” role?

Les says:

December 9th, 2008 at 11:33 am

Um, there’s no way the Mpls ballots can’t exist.

True, but why only 133 in that envelope? There were over 2000 votes cast in the precinct, so even distribution between the 5 would be over 400 in each envelope.. Could it be envelope 1 contained only spoiled ballots and was discarded at some point? Not likely, given the machine count, but you see what can be conjured up…. Ever meet a lawyer without an alternate theroy of the case?

Cash N. Carey says:

December 9th, 2008 at 6:13 pm

The reason we do a manual recount is to check that all legal votes are counted. The 133 ballots in Minneapolis aren’t legal since they never existed. If we thought they existed we would still be looking for them. I haven’t heard anyone claim they are missing except for Franken. I have read where election officials believe they ran ballots through twice.

Not that it matters. Norm is ahead by 687 votes. Only Frankenfraud could steal this one.

adlib says:

December 9th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Les is correct. If the envelope containing the 133 missing ballots were to materialize now there’s no question of which camp would be making “chain of custody objections” just to position for a lawsuit. Norm’s campaign sues in every election. This one will certainly be no exception.

Dora says:

December 9th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

CNC, you are behind. Well, that’s not a surprise. Reichert said the next day after reviewing the voter roles and machine tapes that that information didn’t support the theory of ballots being run through twice. She stated that they are missing. The head election judge also said he delivered 5 envelopes. How could they have “never existed” if they were counted on the machine tape?

How do you come up with 687 votes?

parthian says:

December 10th, 2008 at 7:03 am

“The 133 ballots….never existed.”

Ah, the rotting, sewage-poisoned landscape of Preacher Cash’s debased wingnut mind…..what must it be like to be trapped in it?

Black is white, Cash—some “conservative” leader said it! There’s no recession, either!

Les says:

December 10th, 2008 at 7:49 am


I beleive the count has Coleman ahead by 600 some odd votes excluding all votes in the precinct that makes up dinkytown, which, as you know, gives franken a 400 plus boost.

SgtPendleton says:

December 10th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

CNC, when I start my totalitarian regime, I’m going to make you Minister of Truth. War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.

John E Iacono says:

December 14th, 2008 at 2:57 pm


How does the machine count ballots that never existed? Simple: run a few ballots through a few extra times.

How could that happen? Those ballot boxes are opened several times (to empty out the storage areas when voting is high). Just take a few from the removed pile and run them through again, if you can grab them when the “other party” judge (who is supposed to be there when the machine is opened) is distracted.

Not easy, but in precincts so lopsided that is is hard to get an “other party” judge, certainly do-able.

adlib says:

December 14th, 2008 at 8:02 pm

John E Lacono, it looks like the precincts do have some say over how the recount, if not the contest, gets resolved. If the precint maintains that there was a missing ballot for every vote missing from the machine total, it’s within the cavassing board’s purview to declare the machine total valid.

On the other hand any precinct may also maintain that the absentee ballots they disallowed were were validly rejected. Then there’s no way the recount can fairly include new absentee ballots allowed only by some districts and not by others. So the holdout precincts can throw the “recount” into a legal contest phase.

If the election day challenged ballots are reviewed by the canvassing board in the recount process and this results in a Franken lead, however, it will then naturally be the Coleman team who will want all the rejected absentee ballots examined.

This is a place where open-minded critical thinkers of all political persuasions encounter information and arguments that both support and challenge their preconceptions. The goal is not to eliminate differences but to narrow and clarify them. We begin with a bedrock agreement that the search for insight and clarity is important, serious - and fun.

We ask commenters to be civil and substantive and, if possible, good humored. We reserve the right to delete comments that disregard this request.

Follow The Big Question on Twitter Do you use Twitter? Follow The Big Question.