November 13th, 2008
04:50 PM ET
6 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. Greed is not good

    Absentee ballots never seem to be counted in any state unless it is close.

    No excuse why MN doesn't count them since the recount is mandatory anyway.

    November 13, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. I'm a DEM, but...

    As much as I am blue at heart, I think it's time to let it go. I am an American and truly believe in the idea of checks and balances.

    We don't need our government to be totally blue to work, it just needs to work right!

    Call it quits Al, our country has a lot of work to do.

    November 13, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  3. Gene

    I like Franken.. but I just don't see him as government material.

    But... I guess if republicans could actually be serious about having Joe the Plumber run in 2010.. I must just be ignorant as to what constitutes being qualified to work in government.

    November 13, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  4. Helen, NY

    Franken is a joke. Democrats got into white house and they now want to grab all senate seats. Nancy,Harry and Barack are the major problem here. They are power-hungry. Acorn has elected them and now they want Franken to join the bandwagon. Jokers...

    November 13, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. JOE BLOGGS

    I don't blame Franken. Coleman is a shark in the mold of Karl Rove who brought vote-stealing and vote-suppression to an art form over the past 8 years! Please tell me what is more egregious – signing up Mickey Mouse in a registration drive (who will never actually be allowed to vote) or suppressing tens of thousands of votes, many or most of which – according to statistics – wee rejected bc. of clerical error!

    November 13, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. concerned

    we need a uniform election process...NOW!

    November 13, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  7. George Ennis from Toronto, Canada

    I do not see what the "issue" is here. Clearly the purpose of looking at any ballot is to determine what was the intent of the voters. A legal process seems to be in place to look at ballots which are in question, so let the process work it out and yes going to the courts is part of that process where clarification is required. Yes, it takes time but I am sure we can wait a few more weeks to make sure we get the right answer not a quick answer. Yes right means that the winner might be a Republican or it might be a Democrat.

    November 13, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. WENDY

    People from Texas don't like Al Franken? I am shocked! Everything in Texas is bigger I've heard,even their idiots.

    November 13, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. CWB

    That's right, bickering Democrats just keep counting and recounting until they get the results they like. Washington State showed the way in 2004.

    I have no sympathy for people who don't keep their voter registration current. If you want to vote, abide by the law. It's not up to the county to keep your records straight, it's up to you if you want your vote to count.

    November 13, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  10. Al, NY

    I would love to see Al win, thus STICKING it to O'Reilly who cant stand him.It would be so funny to see Franken on the FACTOR and Oreilly have to address him as Senator

    November 13, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. Chela

    This is why we need a national vote-by-mail system. Much more efficient and safe – plus, the turnout is always pretty high.

    November 13, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. Denver Dem

    Shut your mouths repug scum. It is now clear that coleman and the minnesota repugs are trying to steal the election. Franken is just trying to give the rights back to voters the repugs in minnesota are trying to disenfranchise. Just like the scum in alaska we are starting to see the hijinxs that went into rigging this senate run. Let the recount begin and coleman and his supporters shut your dam mouths and let it happen. Just like Begrich in Alaska Fraken will win minnesota.

    November 13, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Joe Green

    Franken is getting desperate.

    Watch some of his old SNL skits and look up some of his "humor" from the 1970's. He once made a joke about Gay-bashing, saying he was glad one of his fellow Harvard alums was beaten to death.

    Funny guy, that Franken. As a Democrat, I hope he loses.

    November 13, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. jo

    As Americans we should be outraged every time 1 vote isn't counted. It doesn't matter how they voted, we should be furious at how incompetent our voting system is.

    So why aren't we? Because we are sheep, or cattle if you prefer. We follow along stupidly chewing our cuds and blindly believing that every thing will be okay and trusting that our rights are being looked out for...

    ..but they're not!

    November 13, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. tulsa not so conservative anymore

    TONY G. November 13th, 2008 3:56 pm ET
    MR. OBAMA: EVEN IF I DID NOT FOR YOU; I ALWAYS WILL BE WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THIS COUNTRY, NEVER AGAINST YOU, IF YOU NEED MY OPINION I HAVE TO SAY THAT I HOPE YOU WILL BE ONE OF THE VERY BEST PRESIDENTS AND YOU WILL NOT FORGET YOUR RESPOSABILITIES TO FULL FILL THE NEEDS OF YOUR COUNTRY AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. GOD BLESS YOU AND GOOD LUCK.
    TONY G.
    --------------------
    Tony G,
    You my friend are a TRUE AMERICAN. We must all put down our bitterness and face the challenges of this awful mess we are in.
    It is always correct to voice your opinion, for or against POLICIES. Personal attacks have no place in our discourse.
    Thank you for your true patriotism in the face of so much hate and division.
    We could all take a lesson from you.

    November 13, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. Juan Grain

    Go Franken!

    November 13, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Ain't the American electorial process great!
    It ain't over 'til the Frankenlady sings.

    November 13, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. Uh huh

    Franken mismanaged his own checkbook (and some other funds) – why would he bother to file suit over vote counting? In reality, it's a really sad statement on the state of Minnesota that this race is even this close. The guy doesn't have a clue.........oh wait, neither does our prez -elect.

    November 13, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. Voter

    The GOP doesn't understand what Democracy means. Purging & suppressing voters in 5 states and Stevens in Alaska trying to prevent 90k ballots from being counted... now that they're being counted, he's losing! haha

    Additinoally, the RNC filed suit today so that the RNC can contribute $$ on behalf of candidates despite public financing. All they want to do is "fix" the system so only they can win. Sore losers!

    Lets "count" the ballots and see where we are. Per Minnesota law, a runoff is needed anyway I think.

    How many aren't being counted that Franken's group is requesting data on?

    November 13, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. grateful4thedead

    Keep at it Al!

    Sometimes you can find the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.....

    November 13, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  21. Luke Brown, Charleston SC

    People who voted absentee have a right to know if their votes were counted.

    November 13, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  22. Voter

    The GOP doesn't understand what Democracy means. Purging & suppressing voters in 5 states and Stevens in Alaska trying to prevent 90k ballots from being counted... now that they're being counted, he's losing! haha

    Additinoally, the RNC filed suit today so that the RNC can contribute $$ on behalf of candidates despite public financing. All they want to do is "fix" the system so only they can win. Sore losers!

    Lets "count" the ballots and see where we are.

    November 13, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. John the DJ

    Sounds like he just wants to see which possibly legit ballots were rejected. Seems quite valid to me. I don't know why you Republicans are whining... oh wait, because you're all slowly starting to NOT MATTER ANYMORE.

    November 13, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  24. Joe Green

    The right to a private vote is a long-honored tradition in the USA.

    I am concerned that someone would give out my name and address to a political campaign when I vote, either by regular or absentee ballot.

    Why does Franken want the names of the voters if he doesn't intend to contact them?

    Will he contact them all, or run them against a list of registered Democrats and then try to argue that only Democratic votes are not being counted?

    It is very odd, indeed. I though a recount was going to be held, and now he throws a wrench in the works.

    Note that election officials do not "compare signatures" as Franken's lawyer suggests. So his whole scenario about the little old lady stroke victim is a Hillary-like fantasy.

    This guy is pretty amazing....

    November 13, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  25. MCD SF

    State law requires a recount when it is this close.... so let's forget the sore loser stuff. This really isn't a big deal. Just let the process flow and eventually the winner will be declared.

    As to stealing the election... that is what Franken is worried about... how many people were disenfranchised improperly. Do you really think it could be stolen by any action now???? With Judges, Lawyers, and party members looking on at everything? Use your head!

    November 13, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
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