Add Norm Coleman's Tuesday suggestion that "the court is going to have to reflect" on the possibility of a U.S. Senate election do-over to the many legally fanciful ideas that frustration with the protracted U.S. Senate election contest has inspired. Coleman's suggestion may not be as inventive as some dispute resolution methods we've heard. (The cage match idea, in which tickets are sold to benefit the ailing state budget, has definite appeal.)
But the notion that the three-judge panel hearing Coleman's contest might call for a new election appears just as lacking in legal foundation as the mano-e-mano idea.
"This remedy may not be available as it is not explicitly spelled out in statute, and the court has a duty to determine which candidate received the most votes," wrote Sarah Cherry of the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, where election law experts are watching daily developments in the Norm Coleman-Al Franken case.
Minnesota statutes are the roadmap that brought this election into the legal thicket in which it has landed. Those statutes allow for protracted legal examination of the election's matters of dispute, and prohibit the issuance of an election certificate until legal appeals are exhausted (though even that apparently straightforward statute is the subject of a court challenge now.) Only the U.S. Senate can call for a new election, and that is neither imminent nor likely.
The three-judge panel who completed the ballot count in the last agonizingly close statewide election in Minnesota, the 1962 governor's race, ruled on March 20, 1963. This year's contest appears to be following a similar timetable.