Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberley A. Strassel claimed that Al Franken "has been manipulating the socks off the Minnesota system ... by litigating back to life absentee votes that had been rejected on Election Day." In fact, any rejected absentee ballot that was counted in the race was approved by the campaigns of both Franken and his opponent, Norm Coleman. Strassel also claimed the recount "took place behind the scenes"; in fact, the public was able to view the recounting of all ballots and attend all canvassing board meetings concerning the recount.
Writing about the Minnesota Senate race recount in her January 9 Wall Street Journal column, editorial board member Kimberley A. Strassel claimed that Democrat Al Franken "has been manipulating the socks off the Minnesota system, turning what had been a 700-plus vote lead for Mr. [Norm] Coleman into a 225-vote lead for himself. This was primarily accomplished by litigating back to life absentee votes that had been rejected on Election Day." But in asserting that Franken "manipulat[ed]" the Minnesota electoral system by "litigating back to life" previously rejected absentee ballots, Strassel ignored the procedure for counting rejected absentee ballots that was laid out by the state Supreme Court. Under its December 18 order, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that election officials should count only those absentee ballots that both camps agreed had been wrongly rejected. As City Pages (Minneapolis) reporter Emily Kaiser noted in a January 9 blog post, "any rejected absentee ballot that was counted in the race was approved by both campaigns based on a Minnesota Supreme Court decision." Strassel also falsely claimed that the Minnesota Senate election recount "took place behind the scenes." In fact, as the Minnesota Secretary of State's office noted, the "public is allowed to view the recounting of the ballots and to attend all county and state canvassing board meetings," and the Minnesota Secretary of State's website contains video of the Canvassing Board's meetings, as well as the official minutes and rulings on ballot challenges.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that on January 3, election officials counted "933 absentee ballots that all sides had agreed were wrongly rejected."
The Star Tribune editorial board -- which endorsed Coleman -- wrote on December 29, 2008: "Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who heads the Canvassing Board, vowed as the recount began that accuracy and transparency, not haste, would be paramount in the effort. Thus far, he's made good on that promise. The recount may be trying the patience of Minnesotans who wish they could flip to the final chapter and know now how this saga ends. But the Canvassing Board's good work has made it more likely that when the end comes, it will be accepted as fair."
From Strassel's January 9 Wall Street Journal column:
Al Franken began this week a man loved. It didn't matter he had produced material that ought to offend any liberal in good standing. It didn't matter that, under Minnesota law, he can't receive a certificate of election until Sen. Norm Coleman finishes his appeal, and so has no right to a seat.
Mr. Franken was also created out of scandal -- though, fortunately for him, the type that is today considered politics-as-usual. Mr. Franken has been manipulating the socks off the Minnesota system, turning what had been a 700-plus vote lead for Mr. Coleman into a 225-vote lead for himself. This was primarily accomplished by litigating back to life absentee votes that had been rejected on Election Day.
It was not so much a recount as a one-sided do-over. But since it took place behind the scenes, and since the comedian loosed the standard Democratic cry of "let every vote count," nobody got upset.
From Kaiser's City Pages blog post:
Ah yes, our favorite type of opinion pieces. Those that have no evidence to support their claim.
Unfortunately Strassel didn't do her research because the recount was amazingly transparent. It was conducted by a bipartisan state Canvassing Board that voted unanimously 95 percent of the time even on the most important issues. Coleman's campaign even trusted the Canvassing Board from the onset. All of the proceedings were streaming live on The UpTake for anyone interested in watching. And any interested resident could visit the county recount centers to watch the campaigns challenge ballots.
Oh, and "litigating back to life" those absentee ballots? She must not have realized that any rejected absentee ballot that was counted in the race was approved by both campaigns based on a Minnesota Supreme Court decision.