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. L MIAMI, FLORIDA

    AL FRANKEN IS A GIFTED MAN, HE GRADUATED FROM HARVARD UNIVERSITY IN 1973,. HE LOVES OUR COUNTRY AND SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.

    HIS FATHER WAS A SALESMAN.

    HIS DAUGHTER IS A SCHOOL TEACHER.

    HIS SON IS AN AUTOMOVILE ENGINEER.

    I LOVE THIS MAN, HE IS SMART AND DOWN -TO- EARTH.

    GO AL GO !

    November 13, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  2. MADDOGJL

    As a Democrat I hope Franken wins the election but from what I've read, he's run a very dirty campaign and that made me lose alot of respect for him.

    November 13, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  3. MADDOGJL

    As a Democrat I hope Franken wins the election but from what I've read, he's run a very nasty campaign and that made me lose alot of respect for him.

    November 13, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. Will18E

    GO Al, keep on keeping on.

    November 13, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. Roger Hart

    Since I'm not Al Franken nor anyone who will ever run for office and can therefore speak my mind freely, let me say this; Norm Coleman is the most pure sort of scumbag there ever was in US politics. He was a Bush puppet inserted into the U.S. Senate immediately following what was simultaneously the most suspicious and yet most-ignored-by-the-mainstream-media plane crash in American history. So, when rumours fly about he and his Bush cronies possbly being up to something less than respectable during this recount, you had best believe it.

    November 13, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. Lisa

    People in Minnesota don't even like Franken. I have voted Democratic most of my life and couldn't even muster up a vote for him. He should let it go. Where is he from anyway?

    November 13, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  7. worriedmom

    Franken doesn't deserve to serve in any capacity as a representative to our country. He is a very hateful man that likes to make fun of people in cruel ways. Heck, he was a terrible comedian, why does he think he could serve as a Senator. Let it go and stop looking in people's car trunks for votes. Is that where ACORN was hiding them???

    November 13, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  8. Ed

    Go Al! Don't let them suppress the will of the people by cheating !

    November 13, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  9. Proud to be American

    Since 2000 we don't trust this anymore .... make everything transparent there should be no need for lawyers but if one must go there go there.

    Thank you.

    November 13, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  10. California Girl

    I always vote absentee and I would be real mad if i found out my vote wasn't counted. People have a right to know about stuff like that.

    November 13, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. Sandra

    How can anyone possibly be for Franken?? This guy has no business even running for public office. Even Democrats can't be this desperate!

    November 13, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. marty

    What is to me quite significant, is that whenever arguments about voter and vote eligibility are joined (not just in this Minnesota case but in Alaska right now, and nationally leading all the way up to the election), it is ALWAYS the Democratic side that is arguing for INCLUSION of voters, and ALWAYS the Republican side that is arguing for EXCLUSION of voters. Worth thinking about, I believe.

    November 13, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  13. Susan

    Just count the votes and let's get this thing over with.......may the best man win!

    And, BTW, I know it's a bit off-subject and I don't live in Minnesota, but......how in this world did Michelle Bachmann get re-elected to the US House of Representatives from Minnesota? Disappointing and amazing!

    November 13, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  14. RGG

    Every valid vote must count. We don't want Republicans to use 'pregnant chads' excuses any more. The recount was be done slowly and heavily scrutinised by all concerned parties.

    November 13, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  15. Mark

    Voter November 13th, 2008 6:22 pm ET

    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

    Oh, the repubs understand democracy. It is the liberals that hate and fear democracy.

    Democrats and voter fraud – what a concept. It is sad when an idiot likr Franken has to resort to voter fraud to win.

    Truely sad indeed.

    November 13, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  16. Will18E

    Hey Joe Green you do not get it.

    Federal law only requires you to prove who you are, when you register to vote, not when you vote. So if an old signature does not match well, and you did not vote at you polling station, the absentee ballot should count, absent of other proven facts or evidence. Furthermore, when they do not count you ballot, the election officials do not let you know.
    Voting absentee and having your ballot not counted, in cases like this, is being guilty until proven innocent. And Al as an interested party, does not want to be disenfranchised, I.E. Florida Bush v. Gore, then who takes up the charge?

    Voting is a right. Paying taxes is compulsory. Yet the Guvment gives 90% of tax payers at least 2 and 1/2 months to do so, and on line. If you current signature did not match an older one, they will still cash the check.

    November 13, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. Gerry

    Is all that the democrats can being in is comedians what a joke,

    November 13, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. Roy - Chicago IL

    Didn't the Wise Men bring Gold, Mhyrr, and FRANKEN?
    Run Al run!!

    November 13, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Brad

    Pretending that Acorn had anything to do with the outcome of the election is intellectually violent.

    I'm not big on recounts, but I live in MN and Coleman is a scumbag. Any effort to get rid of him has my full support.

    November 13, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  20. Independent

    The fact that Franken's campaign is concentrating on counties that typically favor Democrats instead of giving equal attention to all counties DOES show that this is about winning, not about fighting for people's right to have their votes counted.

    And I am also surprised only 2 other people mentioned the fact that you don't need to release names and addresses to the campaigns to make sure things are done right.

    November 13, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  21. Mark Pawlenty

    Minnesota law requries a recount. The Republican candidate doesn't want to follow the law. The Democrat candidate wants to follow the law.
    Why is anyone surprized?

    November 13, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Disgusted in Cary North Carolina

    Go get 'em, Al! Seems as though the Republicans are all alike, as are their attorneys. I bet you end up winning this seat!

    November 13, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  23. stephanie

    I am amazed at the comments suggesting Franken would steal or cheat or that he's desperate. The Americans are desperate for true leadership..we've been starved for 8 years under GOP control. Franken has every right per law an dper fairness to proceed with a recount as it already has yielded a closer margin. If there is a denial of access to votes by recklessly invalidating absentee ballotts..then that needs to be reconciled or the process becomes more tainted..and whoever wins has a cloud of fraud over them.

    November 13, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  24. stephanie

    I am amazed at the comments suggesting Franken would steal or cheat or that he's desperate. The Americans are desperate for true leadership..we've been starved for 8 years under GOP control. Franken has every right per law an dper fairness to proceed with a recount as it already has yielded a closer margin. If there is a denial of access to votes by recklessly invalidating absentee ballotts..then that needs to be reconciled or the process becomes more tainted..and whoever wins has a cloud of fraud over them.

    November 13, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Contessa

    Again, we see how the GOP tries to disenfranchise eligible voters so they can try to retain a politcal seat. I hope the Minnesota Sec. of State does the right thing and accepts the absentee ballots of those voters called into question for very marginal reasons. Democracy outweighs the neurotic penchant the GOP has for overscrutinizing eligible voters across the country......Very sad.

    November 13, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
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