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Unable to win, ex-GOP senator calls for election results to be 'set aside'
John Byrne
Published: Tuesday March 3, 2009


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If at first you don't succeed, change the rules.

That's the approach of would-be incumbent Minnesota Republican senator Norm Coleman, who has now called for recent Senate election results to be "set aside."

Coleman has been deadlocked in a recount with Democratic challenger and comedian Al Franken, who until recently was the host of a nationally syndicated talk show. Franken and Coleman's lawyers have repeatedly tangled over how the recount should be held and which votes should be counted. Increasingly byzantine, even veteran political observers have given up trying to follow the case. Many believe Franken will eventually prevail.

Apparently frustrated that his election has not been won in court, Coleman lawyer Jim Langdon wrote a three-judge panel overseeing the case that the situation was simply so dire that the election results should be forgotten.

"Some courts have held that when the number of illegal votes exceeds the margin between the candidates -- and it cannot be determined for which candidate those illegal votes were cast -- the most appropriate remedy is to set aside the election," Langdon wrote, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Coleman has faced relentless attacks from liberal bloggers. They haven't, however, had to try hard to find instances undermining the former St. Paul mayor's case.

"On Day 1 of the Coleman/Franken U.S. Senate election contest in Minnesota, the Coleman team was busted doctoring evidence," voting rights blogger Brad Friedman wrote Friday. Friedman has also tracked what he calls myriad "flip-flops" relating to Coleman's positions on which votes to count.

Also on Friday, TPM's Eric Kleefeld wrote that "all hell broke loose" in a Minnesota courtroom last week after new revelations surfaced that a witness had been kept from the court.

"Al Franken's lawyers [caught] Team Coleman in the act of yet more concealing of evidence --- and they've now made a motion to totally strike the Coleman camp's claims about double-counting of ballots, which the Coleman camp has hoped to use to subtract over 100 votes from Franken's lead," Kleefeld wrote.

On Monday, in a boost for Coleman, Minnesota's elections director conceded that there were flaws in the voter registration system that could "exclude otherwise qualified people from voting."

But Franken's lawyers aim to show that the system works -- and that his slight recount lead of 225 votes means he should be named the victor.

Franken lawyer Marc Elias said the team will begin a case today that will include evidence "about the good job that the state of Minnesota did ... that the hardworking auditors and election night officials did. How the system worked, by and large."

The trial is now in its sixth week. Franken's lawyers expect the presentation of their case will take another three.


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