November 13th, 2008
04:50 PM ET
5 years ago

Franken files suit for data on rejected absentee ballots

Al Franken filed a lawsuit on rejected absentee ballots Thursday.
Al Franken filed a lawsuit on rejected absentee ballots Thursday.

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – Democrat Al Franken's campaign filed a lawsuit Thursday in Ramsey County, Minnesota, requesting the names of all individuals who filed a rejected absentee ballot in the Senate race between the former comedian and incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

Mark Elias, lead recount attorney for Franken, said many absentee ballots are rejected for insufficient reasons, offering the example of an elderly woman who'd suffered a recent stroke which affected her signature, and kept it from matching the one her county had on file.

"This is not a lawsuit about putting ballots in the count or not in the count," Elias said. "This is about giving us access to the data that will allow us to determine whether or not there are lawful ballots...[that] werent counted."

The current tally of votes puts Coleman 206 votes ahead of Franken out of about 2.5 million cast in that contest. A hand recount of the Senate race is set to begin November 19.

Elias told reporters at a Thursday press conference that the campaign has asked each county for a list of the people whose absentee ballots were rejected. Elias, along with Franken spokesman Andy Barr, could not say exactly how many counties have offered their lists and how many have not, but added that Ramsey County has not.

The campaign's hope, according to Elias, is that Ramsey County would side in their favor and set a precedent that would immediately be followed by all counties in the state.

Elias and Barr could not say what they plan do with the lists of names if were given them but added that calling each person whose absentee ballot was rejected would not be out of the picture.

"Lets see what happens and then we will see what our next steps are," Elias said.

Whether or not any of the rejected ballots might be counted or not is unclear, but Elias said he does plan on making an appeal to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's newly-formed canvassing board. A spokesman for the Secretary of State's office was not immediately available for comment.

Coleman campapign manager Cullen Sheehan fired back, calling the Franken team's efforts Thursday an attempt to "strong arm" officials into "counting invalid ballots in order to influence the outcome."

"We have grave concerns that the private information requested by the Franken campaign could lead to the harassment of Minnesota voters through visits by Franken campaign or Democratic Party operatives to their homes," said Sheehan.


Filed under: Al Franken
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Emily

    It is a constitutional right to have your vote counted regardless of your political affiliation. Al Franken's campaign is 100% correct in requesting that these ballots are sought after to determine if they were correctly rejected.

    November 13, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  2. Adam

    How about we all stop complaining about a law mandated recount and efforts to actually get people's votes counted. After that, fix the whole registration and election process (this really shouldn't be one of our problems yet somehow it is because it allows politicians wiggle room and they are the only ones who put through the laws to fix it). Then, get rid of voter registration groups like ACORN. Not that I'm one of those people who think ACORN stole the election because that is just silly. No evidence exists that ACORN encouraged its people to turn in fraudulent registrations, attempted to stonewall any investigations into their practices, or that any actual votes came in that resulted in these fraudulent registrations. However, these organizations shouldn't exist anyway. Finding information on how to register in your area is not hard and the actual process of going through with it isn't hard either. I registered as soon as I turned 18 which was almost a decade ago. It's not hard. If you don't care enough to register yourself without people prompting you then you don't care enough to make an informed decision when you vote anyway. There are already enough uninformed people voting right now anyway. I don't want your ill-informed or "on a whim" vote counted even if its for a candidate I support.

    November 13, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. DOCS 3

    IT SEEMS THAT THE COLMAN'S CREW HAS LEARNED VERY WELL FROM KARL /DICK/BUSH TYPE OF POLITICS. COUNT ALL THE VALID VOTES. IT SEEMS THAT SOME OF THOSE IN MINN. HAVE FORGOTTEN THE "VOTING RIGHTS ACT". BUT THEN TO, THE REPUBLICANS PARTY HAVE BEEN MAKING UP THEIR OWN RULES SINCE GB JR. HAS BEEN IN OFFICE. AL FIGHT THEM TO THE END. THERE IS AN OLD SOUTHERN SAYING - "IF YOU KEEP STIRRING THE SMOKING LOGS EVENTUALLY ONE WILL FIND FIRE". OF COURSE WE ALL KNOW IF ONE DIGS DEEP ENOUGH EVENTUALLY ONE WILL HIT PAY DIRT IN ANY POLITICIAN ELECTION. IT IS THE AMOUNT OF PAY DIRT THAT WILL AWAKE THAT STATE AND OUR NATION. TO MANY OF US THAT FOUGHT FOR THOSE RIGHTS OF THE VOTING REMAINS ON THE NUMBER "ONE".

    November 13, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. No Hillary = No Obama

    How ironic that this election is farcical. Sort of like the SNL skits Franken was involved in.. The jokester is now the joke.

    November 13, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  5. Bridg

    Good lord, is this Somalia?? Why the heck does Franken have to sue to get data that should obviously be available to the candidate??

    November 13, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  6. Republican for Obama - TX

    Go for it Al. If you won it then it will come out in the wash...

    November 13, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  7. Jaye

    Give 'em heck, Al!

    November 13, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  8. David

    When a third candidate gets more than 10% of the vote, it is a clear sign that the candidates of the major parties are less than competant.

    No matter who wins this race in 2012, a real candidate will beat the victor in 2018.

    November 13, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  9. Bryan

    Al is all for making votes public. The information on a person's ballot is private and NOT to made public. This is a complete attempt at violating voting laws.

    November 13, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  10. Dyan

    Good for Al!!! It's high time that someone started questioning the basis for disallowing ballots. The reality is that any one of us could have been required to submit a provisional ballot, and we'd never know if our ballot was lter counted or not. If someone doesn't start asking questions about which ballots are being tossed out and the basis for that decision, then there is no way to be certain that our votes were fairly counted.

    I should think that Norm Colman would want to know the same thing. After all, it's possible that ballots were unfairly tossed out that might have favored him.

    November 13, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  11. Texas Teacher

    Don't give up, Al! 200 vote difference is too small to believe! I would fight to check every vote accepted or rejected.

    Al Franken is a brilliant political mind.... intelligent like Obama! He would make a wonderful Senator.

    November 13, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  12. Texas Teacher

    Comedians of the political satire genre are very often extremely intelligent.... I am referencing Steven Colbert, Jon Stewart, and John Maher.... I place Franken right in their with all of them. Brilliant minds!

    November 13, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. ec

    Hey EW,
    8 years of Bush, Cheney and Rove is what happened.

    November 13, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  14. Jonathan Files

    Al Gore won the election before, and modestly stepped aside "for the good of the country". C'mon, now - Republicans are famous for stealing elections - it's time to stop stepping aside and letting the bullies win. COUNT ALL THE VOTES HONESTLY, and let the chips fall where they may.

    And by the way, anyone who has ever heard Al on talk radio, or read "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" know he is a knowledgeable candidate with a sense of humor, not just a celebrity.

    November 13, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  15. CanIcallyouJoe

    Voter at 6:30 :
    "If the Democrats had run a REAL candidate instead of a comedian this race would be over."

    You automatically lose that argument with the mere mention of the name George W Bush. Comedian, indeed....

    At least Al Franken was aware he was making jokes....

    November 13, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  16. Jonathan Files

    Al Gore won the election before, and modestly stepped aside "for the good of the country". C'mon, now - Republicans are famous for stealing elections - it's time to stop stepping aside and letting the bullies win. COUNT ALL THE VOTES HONESTLY, and let the chips fall where they may.

    And by the way, anyone who has ever heard Al on talk radio, or read "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" know he is a knowledgeable candidate with a sense of humor, not just a celebrity.

    Stand in there and fight, Al. Everyone knows the Republicans reputation with close elections - don't give in an inch. Keep 'em honest!

    November 13, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  17. reggie

    give it up Franken. You know nothing about being a senator. Go back to telling bad jokes.

    November 13, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  18. Texas Teacher

    Hold on.... that was Bill Maher.... much as I enjoy the music of John Mayer, I don't suggest he is a political satirist.... I hope I spelled that right..... I am that tired.... it all looks weird to me! :)

    November 13, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. Simmy

    Don't trust them Mr. Franken!

    The 206 votes that Coleman have over you were probably written in crayola! Stay on their tails and force them to do the right thing. Hire a secret agent to monitor the paper trail, and to keep their Inspector Gadgets honest!

    November 13, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  20. Texas Teacher

    Roger Hart.... nothing the Bush/Cheney administration does would surprise me in the least..... and I think everything they do from here on out had better be scrutinized (spelling again.... :( ... dang) The sentiment is the same, spelled right or not! There is something down right evil about this administration... they have behaved obscenely the last 8 years.... no way of getting around it!

    November 13, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  21. Texas Teacher

    Annie, never again a dem.... trust me, you never were a dem! May a dim wit.... but not a Dem.... *LOL* sorry... I could not resist! Stupidity does that to me..:))

    November 13, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  22. anthony brown

    Al Gore set the precedent for this...recount until you win. Accept the fact you lost...just like Gore.

    November 13, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
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