There will be no piles of absentee ballots hauled into a St. Paul courtroom as Norm Coleman wanted. The election contest trial will not be dismissed as Al Franken wanted. The three judges hearing the case in Minnesota’s very close US Senate race today denied motions from both campaigns and set a no-nonsense tone for the trial issuing rules that included a ban on cell phone use in the courtroom.
Most observers agreed that Franken’s attempt to have the case dismissed was a long shot given that the Minnesota Supreme Court had specifically instructed the Coleman campaign to take its allegations of double-counted ballots to an election contest. The Franken campaign had claimed the court had no jurisdiction since the US Senate was the “final court” that would decide who would be seated. The justices found they have the constitutional right to decide the case because it does not “usurp the Senate’s final authority to judge the qualifications of its members.”
The Franken campaign had also argued that the Coleman suit was too general and vague. The court disagreed and said that bringing up absentee ballots, missing ballots and ballots that may have been counted twice was specific enough.
The court was curt in denying the Coleman motion to bring piles of ballots to St. Paul offering no explanation in the denial.
The Coleman campaign appeared to anticipate the denial and filed a motion to send inspectors to 86 precincts where it claims votes were double counted, not counted, or there were irregularities. Coleman proposes three inspectors, one from each campaign and another “non-partisan” inspector.
Video of Wednesday hearing on motion to dismiss.