Views of the Canvassing Board

  • Updated: November 26, 2008 - 7:50 PM

 

Although the state Canvassing Board reached consensus on rejecting the Franken campaign's request that it reconsider all rejected absentee ballots, members expressed differing views and postponed a decision regarding so-called "fifth pile" ballots. Those are absentee ballots that were rejected without officials citing one of four legally specified reasons.

Here's what the board members said:

Chief Justice Eric Magnuson: Like the other members, Magnuson said a court challenge over absentee ballots is almost certain, and he supported the idea of having local officials sort rejected ballots into five categories, if only to assist the courts later on. But he expressed doubts that the Canvassing Board has the authority to decide to count any of the rejected ballots.

Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson: Anderson took the same view as Magnuson, emphasizing the limited administrative powers of the Canvassing Board (as opposed to a court). He urged the board to seek advice from the state attorney general on whether it has the power to order the inclusion in its recount of any ballots not already counted. The board agreed to reconvene after receiving the AG's counsel.

Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin: Gearin argued that the board should go further and advise local officials to count "fifth pile" ballots, or at least those clearly rejected in error. She said such ballots should be considered "uncounted," not rejected.

Ramsey County Assistant Chief Judge Edward Cleary: Cleary agreed with Gearin and argued that the board has more authority to correct errors than Magnuson and Anderson suggested.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie: Ritchie said little that made clear his views about the issues before the board, mainly overseeing the discussion among the other members.

D.J. TICE

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