Sen. Franken On Busting The Filibuster Threat

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At Netroots Nation, the 60-vote requirement to prevent a filibuster was criticized by many people. Before his keynote address, Senator Al Franken (DFL- Minnesota) stopped by The UpTake booth to talk about the filibuster and other issues. In this exclusive interview with Mike McIntee, Franken talked about possible changes to the filibuster rule when the 2011 Senate convenes, and the “slow walking” tactics used by current Senators. One scenario: after a 60-40 vote for a nominee, cloture is invoked, which delays the vote for 30 hours. When the Senate votes again after cloture, the vote on the same nominee might be 98-0.

Coleman Campaign Asks Court Not To Count Some Minneapolis Ballots

Are they ballots that were counted twice or are they the result of election judges not filing all the proper paperwork? That’s a question the Minnesota Supreme Court is pondering. The answer could decide Minnesota’s extremely close US Senate race.  
Lawyers for US Senator Norm Coleman’s campaign on Tuesday argued that there is evidence some ballots in mostly Minneapolis precincts were counted twice. Duplicate ballots are created when a mailed in ballot can not be run through the scanning machine.

Al Franken Campaign 47 Votes Ahead

Al Franken’s recount lawyer Marc Elias says the Norm Coleman campaign’s “second attempt at a Hail Mary pass fell incomplete, which is good because it is the right result for the people of Minnesota”.  

Preview of Tuesday’s Canvassing Board Meeting

Tuesday the Minnesota Canvassing Board will finish its work on the US Senate race recount. There are still uncounted absentee votes to consider, but those will need to wait until the end of the year. The UpTake is producing the media “pool” feed because state workers are not available during the holidays to do so. Mike McIntee gives us a preview of our coverage.

“Get Rid Of Frivolous Challenges” Says MN Secretary of State Ritchie

MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie says the state canvassing board decided the fate of 160 challenged ballots on the first day, eventually reaching a pace of 40/hour. Ritchie emphasized, “Get rid of frivolous challenges,” citing the example of “just a dot” in one oval when another is completely filled in. Ritchie didn’t guarantee the process would be finished by the end of the week, stating the need for the process to be accurate until it’s finished. Filmed by Chuck Olsen for The UpTake on Dec. 16, 2008.

Franken Campaign Reacts to Coleman Supreme Court Petition

The Norm Coleman campaign has petitioned Minnesota’s Supreme Court after losing two key points before the State Canvassing Board. The board ruled that 133 missing ballots from Minneapolis may be counted based upon the machine count and recommended that counties start sorting and counting improperly rejected absentee ballots…which may number more than 1,000.  
The Coleman campaign argues that the Canvassing Board suggestion essentially creates 87 different standards (there are 87 counties) for counting the improperly rejected absentee ballots.  
Franken campaign attorney Marc Elias counters that the state already has very precise standards in place for counting ballots.  
This is audio from Marc Elias’ news conference shortly after the Coleman campaign announced it was going to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Missing Votes, Uncounted Absentee Ballots To Count In Tight MN US Senate Race

Minnesota’s tight US Senate Race will apparently be decided by ballots that have not been counted yet. The State Canvassing Board today recommended that counties find and tally ballots that were improperly rejected. The board also approved counting 133 ballots missing from a Minneapolis precinct. That was a victory fro the Al Franken campaign since that pricinct gives him a net gain of more than 40 votes.

“Utterly Implausible” Explanation For Not Counting 133 Ballots

The Al Franken campaign today restated that it’s internal numbers shows their candidate continues to lead by 4 votes over Senator Norm Coleman.  Franken campaign lawyer Marc Elias then offered rhetoric to counter Coleman campaigns suggestion that the 133 ballots missing from a Minneapolis precinct should not be counted… calling the suggestion that 133 people signed in and didn’t vote as “utterly implausable”. 
 
The only new twist to anything was a question from the Star Tribune about challenged ballots that are no longer challenged.   The Star Tribune reporter apparently has seen some ballots where the challenge has been withdrawn that does not indicate the judge’s original ruling on who got that vote.   Elias said the Franken campaign would look into it.

Three Counties Refuse To Sort Rejected Absentee Ballots In MN US Senate Race

Three counties, including two of Minnesota’s most populous counties, are refusing to go along with a request from Minnesota’s Secretary of State that could unearth an additional 500 to 1,000 uncounted ballots in Minnesota’s tight US Senate race.  The race between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Senator Norm Coleman is the last Senate race in the country yet to have a declared winner. Last week at the urging of the State Canvassing Board, which must certify the results of the elections, the Secretary of State’s office asked counties to sort through rejected absentee ballots.  Minnesota law lists four reasons an absentee vote may be rejected.   The Canvassing Board wants to know how many ballots that did not match any of those criteria were rejected.  This is what is being called “the fifth pile”.  
Based on the advice of their lawyers, Ramsey, Washington and Itasca counties are refusing to do the sorting.  Ramsey and Washington counties are part of the metro area and accounted for about 14% of all of the votes in Minnesota.  The Secretary of State estimates there may be from 500 to 1,000 improperly rejected absentee ballots. Reacting to the refusal, Franken attorney Marc Elias said “I don’t know of any good reason why a county would refuse to sort ballots by rejection type.” Elias says the Franken campaign’s internal count gives their candidate a 4-vote lead over Coleman.  Elias criticized media such as the Star Tribune, which continue to report a 192-vote lead for Coleman.  Elias said the media knows that number isn’t true because it assumes the more than 6,000 ballot challenges will be upheld when hundreds of those challenges have already been withdrawn.  On Monday the Franken campaign announced it was withdrawing about 425 ballot challenges, bringing to about 1,000 challenges it has withdrawn.  The Coleman campaign has withdrawn about 600 challenges.

Team Franken: “22 Votes Up” Sans Challenges

Wednesday the Al Franken Campaign claimed for the first time a razor thin lead, 22 votes, in the Minnesota Senate Recount. This is derived from their internal counting methodology which is based on assuming all challenges are invalid and counting each vote per the decision of the election officials at the county level. The campaign also began unilaterally withdrawing challenges starting with 633 ballots. The +22 includes these withdrawn challenges. Here is a list of the withdrawn challenged ballots.

171 Ballots Found During Recount In Ramsey County

Minnesota US Senate Candidate Al Franken picked up a net 37 votes after 117 previously uncounted ballots were discovered during a recount in Ramsey County.  The ballots had been sealed in boxes since the election.  Ramsey County Election Manager Joe Mansky talks about how the error likely happened. 
 
Mansky also tells The UpTake this is why paper systems are superior to electronic systems because there is always a physical ballot to go back to and check.

Mower County Auditor Brings Franken Observer To Tears

On Monday, Mower County Auditor Doug Groh stopped all counting to question an observer from the Al Franken campaign who wanted to challenge a ballot.  The challenge had been labeled as frivolous by Groh.Holding up the challenged ballot he says “I hope you have a clear understanding on what voter intent is. We have our jobs to do. Election judges have their jobs to do. We have our job to do.”This incident had apparently been going on for several minutes before this video was shot by another Franken volunteer Laura Askelin who was taking a vacation day from her job with AFSME to observe the recount for the Franken campaign.According to an Askelin, Groh continued to speak until the observer stated “I will withdraw if you stop humiliating me”.   The observer was brought to tears at this point. This happens at about 4 minutes into the video.  The observer is the woman with the headbnd and her back to the camera.  Even without seeing her face, you can see that she is visually upset.  After that, Groh is heard to say “the candidate for Franken withdraws the challenge.At the end of the day, the Franken campaign asked that the ballot in question be examined again.  The precinct box was reopened, recounted and this time was successfully challenged.Reached on Wednesday, Groh says the observer had stated that “she did not know what she was doing” when Groh questioned her on the statutes regarding voter intent.  In reviewing the challenged ballots he asked her “what [the] basis of the challenge [was].  She was unable to answer.”  Groh continues that he stopped the count to address the room because he “wanted to make sure they had an understanding of what they were to look at so we could facilitate the process and be done with that count in a timely manner.”Later that afternoon other Franken observers asked to review that precinct’s ballots again.  They challenged three ballots including the original ballot in question.Voices were again raised when Dale Chibester, Mower County DFL Chair, made a challenge.  “I can reject this challenge.

Franken Campaign Won’t Appeal Canvassing Board Decision Today

Mark Elias, a recount lawyer for the Al Franken campaign says the campaign will not appeal a decision today from the Minnesota Canvassing Board the said the board can not review rejected absentee ballots. The board did indicate it would be proper for local election officials to sort absentee ballots into piles based on the reason for rejection, including a pile for ballots that were rejected improperly.  
The campaign did not rule out making a challenge to the ruling in the future.  
Elias said the Coleman talks truces on challenged ballots, but still continues to run them up. Coleman’s campaign has challenged about one hundred more ballots than the Franken campaign.

Canvassing Board Recommends Sorting Rejected Absentee Ballots

Minnesotas US Senate race may come down to 500-1,000 improperly rejected absentee ballots. The MN State Canvassing board says local election officials should sort those out. But does not rule what should happen with those ballots.  
Today the board ruled against a move by the Al Franken Campaign for the Canvassing Board to review the rejected absentee ballots directly.

Missing Ballots, Hidden Totals

Al Franken’s campaign claims their candidate is gaining on Norm Coleman in the recount of Minnesota’s US Senate election. Lead Franken Recount Attorney Mark Elias says the challenged ballots (now numbering about 3,000) are masking the real results.  
Elias also express concern over several reports of missing ballots.  Some of those ballots have been found.  Others have not.

Coleman: Most Ballot Challenges Will Be Dismissed

Sen. Norm Coleman returned to Minnesota to visit an Xcel Energy nuclear plant training facility after several days working in Washington D.C.  This was one of the first opportunities reporters had to question Coleman on the ongoing recount.  Sen. Coleman discusses ballot challenges and nuclear energy.

A Challenging Recount Job

At the Hennepin County elections warehouse in Minneapolis, one calm person is in the eye of the storm between election judges, the media, and campaign lawyers: Cindy Reichert, Director of Elections for Minneapolis. Cindy describes the challenges that arose on the first day of Minnesota’s senate recount. We also take a look at a sampling of challenged ballots, including a glimpse of a “Mickey Mouse” ballot, and a bit of MN GOP chair Ron Carey being interviewed. Produced by Chuck Olsen for The UpTake

Election Official Rules on “Frivolous” Challenges

On Day 1 of the Minnesota Senate Recount between Al Franken and Senator Norm Coleman most recount locations ran smoothly and politely. However, there was a small amount of tension at the recount location in Ramsey County. Coleman campaign representative Bob Murray challenged two ballots that were for Franken. Ramsey County Elections Directory Joe Mansky declared the challenges “frivolous” and accepted the ballots for Franken. Franken’s campaign representative had challenged one ballot for Coleman.

Glitches On First Day Of US Senate Recount In Minneapolis

Minneapolis has more than 209-thousand ballots to recount in the next few days for Minnesota’s US Senate race.  The time that it will take to count those ballots got a little longer today when the recount had to start over because ballots with identifying marks were not being pulled aside.  In Minnesota, marking a ballot with your name or initials invalidates the ballot.  
The UpTake’s Chuck Olsen talks to Minneapolis Elections Director Cynthia Rechert about the problems of the first day of oounting.