Senate recount trial: Mistakes were isolated, Franken team contends

Franken's camp brought witnesses who spoke of ballots that may have been wrongly rejected, but it also said they were exceptions in a mostly well-run election.

Norm Coleman's lawyers may have wrapped up their case that something's wrong with Minnesota's election system, but it was sometimes hard to tell Wednesday as Al Franken's legal team brought forward a parade of people who say their votes may have been wrongly rejected in the U.S. Senate race.

But Franken attorney Marc Elias said those voters were the exceptions dealt a raw deal by an election system that "[got] it right 99.99 percent of the time." He said his side will move today to dismiss parts of the election recount trial that was initiated by Republican Coleman in an attempt to overturn Democrat Franken's 225-vote lead.

"The fact that we can find these isolated incidents here and there where a county election official made a mistake, in fact shows that in the vast majority of cases, out of 2.9 million ballots, how few mistakes there were," Elias said.

Voters, officials testify

The 13 voters whom Franken's side called to testify Wednesday were bracketed by state elections director Gary Poser and Ramsey County elections chief Joe Mansky.

In response to questions from Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg, Poser said that some absentee voters could receive the wrong ballot materials because of outdated or inaccurate information in the state's registered-voter database.

Asked why two registered voters received materials for nonregistered voters, Poser said it could have been because the wrong name was looked up or a name was mistyped.

"Or it could be the data was wrong?" Friedberg said.

"It's certainly possible," Poser said.

Poser also said that some counties require voters who move from one apartment to another in the same building to re-register, while others do not. One county that requires re-registration is Hennepin, where some buildings are split by precinct lines, he said.

The voters who testified about rejected absentee ballots said they thought they had done everything necessary to ensure their vote would be counted.

"Will my vote be counted?" asked Kathleen Awes, of Richfield, after she was dismissed.

"You're going to have to ask those people up there," Friedberg said, gesturing toward the three judges hearing the trial.

"We all want to know the answer to that question," said Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton.

Meanwhile, at an event at the State Capitol, Franken was asked about a possible do-over of the race. He said that "instead of really addressing and meeting the enormous economic challenges that face us, it seems that Senator Coleman has chosen instead to attack the Minnesota court system, attack election officials and try to erase voters' votes."

Franken added: "I know he's disappointed, but we've come through a fair election and a fair and very meticulous recount and we're going through now a very fair court challenge and I think it's time we address the people's business."

Staff writer Patricia Lopez contributed to this report. Kevin Duchschere • 651-292-0164

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