When improperly rejected absentee ballots first took center stage in the Senate recount battle late last year, Minnesotans learned that the tossed ballots could be divided into five separate piles. Things have gotten considerably more complicated.
Republican Norm Coleman's lawyers have convinced the three-judge panel in the Senate election trial to let them present evidence that more than 5,200 absentee ballots should be counted because they were wrongly rejected. In doing so, they argue that local elections officials' mistakes can be divided into 16 categories.
Al Franken's lawyers are expected to present a pile of rejected absentee ballots that they think should be counted. It's not known how they will organize them. Here are samples of ballots in each of the Coleman lawyers' categories, with a link to an example in the category.
| Category A-1: Not counted even though the local election official actually marked the ballot “accepted.”
| Category A-2: Rejected though they were not marked as “rejected.”
| Category B: Rejected for no apparent reason, with the local election official failing to offer, in the lawyers’ words, “any comprehensible reason.”
| Category C-1: Rejected for lacking a signature when a pre-printed sticker placed on the ballot envelope obstructed the signature requirement.
| Category C-2: Rejected because election official sent voter the wrong ballot.
| Category D-1: Rejected because the election official couldn’t find the voter’s original application for an absentee ballot.
| Category D-2: Rejected for lacking a voter’s signature though the voter did sign the ballot envelope.
| Category D-3: Rejected because election official couldn’t match the signature on the ballot envelope with the signature on the ballot application, though both signatures may have been genuine.
| Category D-4: Rejected because the ballot envelope was missing the address of the voter's witness, though the address could be easily ascertained, such as a spouse acting as the witness.
| Category D-5: Rejected because the ballot lacked complete witness address information, which Coleman’s lawyers called “mere irregularities or technicalities.”
| Category D-6: Rejected because officials said they lacked proof of voter’s residence, though the witness indicated such proof was had been presented to them.
| Category D-7: Rejected for lack of voter registration though the voter may have been properly registered.
| Category D-8: Rejected when an already-registered voter (who was mistakenly sent ballot materials for an unregistered voter) failed to return the registration card.
| Category D-9: Rejected for lack of a valid witness though the witness was a registered voter, as required by law.
| Category D-10: Rejected because the ballot arrived late, though Coleman’s lawyers say “there was no clear evidence” the ballot arrived after the deadline.
| Category D-11: Rejected when ballot from an overseas military service member arrived late. Coleman campaign say such ballots “should be presumed valid.”