Democrat Al Franken's legal team Saturday proposed to count nearly 1,600 rejected absentee ballots, nearly half of them identified earlier by Republican Norm Coleman as ballots he wanted considered for counting.
The offer was part of a revised list of rejected ballots Franken proposed counting in a motion filed in the trial over Minnesota's disputed U.S. Senate election. Both campaigns have been working in the past week to refine their lists of absentee ballots they want reconsidered in response to a ruling Feb. 13 by a three-judge panel that narrowed the field of ballots eligible for trial.
Franken increased the number of absentee ballots that he alone wants counted from 771 to 804. About a third are from Ramsey or St. Louis counties.
Coleman spokesman Mark Drake called Franken's offer to count those additional ballots after fighting it earlier "the height of hypocrisy."
"Their motto is simple: If it's a vote for Franken, count it; if it's a vote for somebody else, disenfranchise the voter," Drake said.
Franken's latest motion also said 64 other ballots disappeared during the recount and cost him the same number of votes. Those ballots are from Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Stearns, Olmsted, Hubbard, Dakota, Clay and Chisago counties. He asked the panel to add them to his total. And he said 61 mail-order ballots that Becker County lost and found three days after the election should be excluded because officials failed to ensure that they were in custody during the time they were missing. Those ballots favored Coleman by 22 votes.
Finally, Franken said, a felon voted for Coleman in Roseau County despite state law barring felons from voting if their full sentence is not completed.
The Canvassing Board in January certified a 225-vote lead for Franken. Since then, the panel has agreed to add another 24 votes to his total.
So far in the trial, each side has assembled lists of allegedly improperly rejected absentee ballots that come from areas of the state where it generally enjoys an electoral advantage.
Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210