Count All The Votes (UPDATED X2)

Looks like there are some shenanigans going on in the Minnesota Senate recount:

Al Franken’s Senate campaign called on the Minnesota Secretary of State to launch a comprehensive investigation into the possibility of missing ballots in the state’s recount election.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, aides to the Democratic challenger said that they were growing increasingly concerned with news reports that ballots from Election Day — which by state law must be recounted — have gone missing.

“The number of votes counted on November 4th,” said spokesman Andy Barr, “exceeds the number of ballots produced for consideration during the recount.”

[…]

In a memo to the Secretary of State, David Lillehaug, another attorney for the Franken campaign, claimed that there were still five missing ballots in Clay County, three in St. Louis, and 13 in Washington County. “In an election this close,” he added, “these discrepancies should be cause for serious concern to every Minnesota voter.”

[Emphasis mine]

This election might come down to just a few dozen votes; every vote needs to be accounted for and every vote needs to be counted.

It’s telling that the Franken campaign–and not the Coleman camp–are the ones calling for this investigation. Democrats have always been the party more concerned about upholding the integrity of the electoral process and making sure the voices of the people are heard.

We need to keep a close eye on what’s going on in Minnesota, because there’s more than just a Senate seat at stake–the credibility of the democratic process itself might be hanging in the balance.

UPDATE: The Franken campaign is reporting that they’re down by only 84 votes:

A key new development in Minnesota: The Franken campaign is now giving an actual figure for what they think their true current deficit against Norm Coleman is — an estimated statistic that has proven elusive in this drawn-out process.

“The differential between the two candidates is 84 votes,” lead Franken recount lawyer Marc Elias just told a press briefing. “That obviously is down from the starting point of 215.”

In addition, the Franken camp is fighting so that every legitimately-cast vote is counted:

“The lists of rejected ballots contain numerous indications of error on their face, by local officials in the rejection process,” Elias said. As one example, Elias cited an instance in which election officials openly admitted, “we screwed up,” in putting a ballot on the rejected pile.

“The fact is,” Elias said, “no Minnesotan should be disenfranchised because, quote, ‘we screwed up.'”

Fight. Count every vote. Even if Franken loses, there can be no doubt that the final result completely reflects the will of the people of Minnesota.

UPDATE II: The Franken camp has uncovered 6,400 rejected absentee ballots and is now asking the the state election board to consider counting those votes. Here’s the key part:

Campaign attorney Marc Elias said Tuesday that the campaign received the rejected ballots from 66 of the state’s 87 counties, according to the Associated Press. In some instances, clerical errors or oversight caused the ballot to be improperly rejected.

In other words, these ballots were rejected not because they were improper or illegal, but because the officials in charge of processing and counting votes made a mistake.

Nobody who cast a legitimate vote should be disenfranchised because a bureaucrat made a mistake; every legitimate vote should be counted.

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