We are about to embark on a recount process for U.S. Senate which promises to be heated and controversial for the next 4-6 weeks. With Senator Norm Coleman ahead by 206 votes out of 2.9 million cast, the results are about as close as they can possibly be. Fortunately Minnesota has a reputation for a clean electoral and recount process and the final results shouldn’t be called into question. The fact that a recount is needed is based on the state law that any election with a margin of less than ½ a percent triggers a required recount. In this case that means any result that had the two candidates within 14,500 votes of each other. The fact that the result is 206 votes shows how tight this election really is.
Unfortunately Senator Norm Coleman and his henchmen are trying to muddy the waters, make it look like there is something wrong with a recount, Minnesota’s electoral process, and Secretary of State Ritchie. Neither could be further from the truth. One of Coleman’s complaints is that the number of votes has changed from what was reported on election night. Coleman has gone from nearly a 800 vote lead to about a 200 vote lead. What Coleman’s supporters don’t mention is that this is normal for any election and that the roughly 600 vote change is actually quite small. This is an important and crucial part of the election certification process and has been for decades in Minnesota. In 2002 when Coleman was first elected, Coleman lost 8,920 votes from the unofficial canvas to the final official total. Did Coleman complain or question the canvassing then? Of course not, he was firmly in the lead and those 9000 votes were meaningless to him.
The fact is that the State of Minnesota will do an independent, publically witnessed, ballot-by-ballot recount of the Senate vote. We will have a winner. It makes no sense for Senator Coleman to cast dispersions on this process as there is no evidence that it will not be on the up-and-up. Maybe Coleman is worried about the results.
The fact is that many of the votes that may be in question look to be in areas that Franken ran strongly. It doesn’t take a whole lot of uncounted ballots to get to 207. On the other hand, Coleman does have the lead and recounts rarely overturn a lead. I think with 2.9 million votes cast that 206 votes lead could easily go away (or increase). No one knows and that’s why we have a recount. Coleman’s complaints only serve to have the public question our electoral process. Given the fact that the State’s electoral process has a national reputation for being clean and fair, Coleman’s complaints seem to be self-serving rather than civic minded. Hmm… self-serving over being civic minded, why do these terms always seem to be associated with Norm Coleman?