by Todd Beeton, Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 02:07:39 PM EST
With the Minnesota vote certification set for tomorrow and the recount to commence on Wednesday, Al Franken's campaign is fighting to make sure that absentee votes that were wrongfully disqualified are counted. Franken had originally requested voter information on all excluded absentee ballots but when two counties rejected the request, citing privacy concerns, Franken took it to court.
Franken has sued to get access to a roster of voters whose absentee ballots were invalidated. The campaign says it would use the information to investigate whether the rejections were proper.
The hearing on this lawsuit is set for Wednesday morning, shortly after the recount is scheduled to begin, so the Franken campaign has requested that the certification -- and hence the recount -- be pushed until all valid votes are counted.
The Franken campaign filed a brief with the five-person board Monday, demanding that every vote be counted.
"We would ask them to not certify the vote count," Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer working for Franken, said in a news conference Monday.
As Elias said on a conference call with reporters today:
"I don't think that they have a vote count to certify."
It's important to note that, despite the Republican party line on this, this is not some futile fishing expedition by a campaign desperate for any vote it can get. This is a legitimate enfranchisement issue.
Franken's advisers say they know of hundreds of voided absentee ballots based on their surveys of Minnesota counties that voluntarily supplied information, but they wouldn't give a precise number. [...]
One of the affidavits is from James Langland of Thief River Falls, who voted absentee in person because he was traveling on Election Day. Langland said he was told his ballot was invalidated because it lacked proper documentation. He said he learned nine days after the election that a county official failed to sign the envelope.
Langland said in the document that he voted for Franken, as did the other three voters who submitted sworn statements.
"In an election this close, every vote matters and every vote should be counted," said Franken attorney Marc Elias. "Whether it's a close election or not, these individual Minnesotans have a right to have their vote counted."
Elections officials in the state have said that the absentee ballot issue could potentially be dealt with during the recount, so it doesn't look as though an official certification of the vote would spell the end for those wrongfully disenfranchised absentee voters, but clearly, the Franken campaign would like to add them to the official pre-recount tally to minimize any lead Coleman has and hence any premature claims of victory.
Whenever it actually starts, the recount is going to be expensive, so help Al out over at the Road To 60 ActBlue page.