Election judge is dumbfounded her ballot was rejected

  • Updated: December 31, 2008 - 5:58 PM

DULUTH - Shirley Graham was astonished to learn that a lawyer from Norm Coleman's campaign on Tuesday blocked her absentee ballot from being added to the U.S. Senate recount.

"I'm an election judge," said Graham, of Duluth. "I expected to be the last person whose ballot wouldn't be counted."

Her sealed ballot was among 60 from St. Louis County that were blocked by representatives of Coleman and Al Franken during the first day of a statewide review of absentee ballots that may have been wrongly rejected in last month's election. Under a state Supreme Court ruling, local election officials and the two campaigns must all agree that a ballot was wrongly rejected for it to be sent along to St. Paul for inclusion in the recount.

Coleman's camp, which rejected 59 of the 60 ballots set aside Tuesday in St. Louis County (out of 161 total ballots), objected to Graham's ballot on the grounds that the date next to her signature did not match the date next to the signature of her witness, Jack Armstrong.

That's dumbfounding, Graham said. "Both of us are former educators, and he used to work in the secretary of state's office," she said. "As he sat across the table from me, he actually said, 'Shirley, this date has to be the same.' I don't understand how it could be different."

Graham said that because she works each Election Day in a neighboring precinct, she votes absentee. She didn't have any idea that her ballot had been rejected, reconsidered and rerejected until receiving a reporter's call.

"I want to see my ballot," said Graham, who added that she'd consider going to court, if she must, to get her vote counted.

A final irony: She voted for Coleman.

LARRY OAKES

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