12.01.2008 0

Another One Bites the Dust

  • On: 12/30/2008 10:10:20
  • In: Elections
  • By Robert Romano

    With challenger Al Franken holding to a slight lead of 46 votes, it appears all but certain that comedian-turned-politician, who once appeared to be defeated in initial vote counts, will now be declared the next Senator from the state of Minnesota.

    And through the most unorthodox of means. Not by a final tally of votes as cast by Minnesota residents. But via the Senate’s power to“be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members…” as reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and cross-posted by Politco:

    “Regarding the length of a vacancy, Klobuchar said she believes there is still ‘a good possibility’ that the Canvassing Board will finish up by Jan. 6 and even a better chance that Minnesota will have a new senator a week or so later.

    “‘If the Canvassing Board declares a winner, that should be our senator,’ she said, even if a court challenge were to follow. ‘[The Senate] could seat a senator pending the litigation.’

    “Her view of a possible provisional winner is shared by Fred Morrison, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Minnesota. Morrison said the Senate could tentatively seat Franken, for example, if he comes out of the Canvassing Board process with a lead that would require Coleman to prevail in court on nearly all of his disputed claims to win.

    “‘The Senate could say … we will seat Franken pending the final result,’ he said.

    And that could well solidify the Franken’s hold on the seat, even if the eventual results of the election were held to be different.

    As ALG News has previously reported, incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman once held a lead of 215 votes after an initial count, but has since seen that number dwindle into the red under the weight of new ballots, votes, “wrongly-rejected” absentee ballots, and other shenanigans.

    Secretary of State Mark Ritchie—who has been linked to the group ACORN—has overseen the statewide recount and together with the state canvassing board and state courts has had rejected every major challenge Mr. Coleman has issued to defend his once-lead.

    In the process, the tenuous two-party system nationally hangs in the balance, with Republicans desperately clinging to the ability to filibuster acts in the Senate. Minus Coleman, Republicans will only have 41 Senators—just enough to defeat an all-important cloture vote.

    Mr. Franken’s victory may also have implications for future election disputes. Following the lead of Al Gore in 2000, Mr. Franken first refused to concede the election after initial counts. Instead, with the race declared too close to call, and a mandatory recount to ensue, the campaign determined to find enough new ballots in his favor until the outcome was overturned.

    All of which, in the least, undermines the legitimacy of the electoral process. It incentives further election disputes and ballot tampering in the future. Expect “missing” ballots to turn up more frequently in upcoming electoral contests.

    Even if Senator Coleman were to prevail with his court cases to throw out disputed ballots, there is no guarantee that the Senate will not have declared Mr. Franken the winner prior to a victory in the courts. In other words, even if Minnesota’s allowance of disputed ballots—which gave Mr. Franken his current margin for victory—was completely in error, once the Senate recognizes a winner, that will be it.

    And with a solid Democratic majority in the Senate, if it goes to the world’s most deliberative body, expect Mr. Franken to be seated as Minnesota’s next Senator, regardless of the actual count of votes in Minnesota.

    Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.

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