January 30th, 2009
12:18 PM ET
4 years ago

Week One nears completion in Minnesota Senate trial

Coleman has been a courtroom visitor as proceedings continue.

Coleman has been a courtroom visitor as proceedings continue.

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - The courtroom battle over Minnesota’s Senate race wraps up its first week Friday, beginning the day with the testimony of Ramsey County elections manager and former state elections director Joseph Mansky.

The first week has primarily been centered around presenting background information and details of the election process to the three-judge panel, and Mansky's testimony is no different.

Earlier in the week, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann - a central figure in the both the election and the recount process - testified for about a day and a half on procedures and details, from the training of local election judges to the level of back-and-forth on a myriad of issues between each campaign during the recount.

The judges will ultimately decide the electoral fate of former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman - who's been in the courtroom all week - and Democrat Al Franken. Coleman is contesting recount results that gave the lead to Franken.

Coleman's attorneys say there are thousands of absentee ballots that were rejected erroneously that should be counted. They've brought a handful of voters to the witness stand this week in an effort to prove those votes were wrongfully excluded from the total.

Absentee ballots have been rejected for a number of reasons. The Coleman campaign has pointed to some that were rejected for technicalities like signatures on the ballot that don't match the signature on the ballot application, stickers that were accidentally placed askew on the ballot covering a signature, and instances where voters have occasionally signed below a signature line as opposed to on it.

The Franken campaign contends that some human error on the part of election workers is normal in any election, and does not constitute a valid reason to re-examine as many as 11,000 ballots, as the Coleman campaign has said they may request.

Franken lawyers are also looking to prove that in the past the Coleman campaign had argued against counting absentee ballots, long before they were for it. They say Coleman is now merely "casting a wider net" in the hopes that the more votes are included, the better the chance Coleman has.

The trial is expected to last weeks.

Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Fred C Dobbs

    Minnesota loses either way in this process – a liberal elite or a right wing zealot, what a choice.

    January 30, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    This whole thing reminds me of Florida in 2000, but at least there aren't any chads to discuss.

    January 30, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Why not read the ballot rules and abide by them.
    Having another person fill out your voting ballot and signed with this same persons forged signature and expect it to be counted .

    Having persons signature on one file and Initials on their ballot and expect this ballot to be counted .

    This Coleman is a nut job / throw him under the bus stop wasting tax payers money in court with this flake.
    This is another reason where this country is with this type waste.

    January 30, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. david Armendale, SF, CA

    Coleman is hoping to steal this election like the GOP did in 2000.

    January 30, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. Tony

    All these witnesses aren't even necessary. You've got counties that have more votes than voters. Didn't anybody see Black Sheep? Franken clearly cooked the books during the recount. The recount should be invalidated and Coleman should take his rightful place as the senator from Minnesota.

    January 30, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Ry

    Remember back in November when you said that if you were the one behind in the votes, you'd step down so that the people of Minnesota wouldn't have to go through some lengthy battle and not be represented?

    Yeah I remember that too.

    Go away Coleman. We didn't want you the first time.... we don't want you now.


    January 30, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. Amber

    They've already counted the votes, Coleman's and Franken's camps both approved/disapproved votes together for the final tally. It's just that the final tally didn't go Coleman's way, and how he's in a strop for being ousted by a comedian.

    One of the witnesses Coleman brought to the stand was a guy who's girlfriend illegally signed his ballot. That witness and his ballot were rejected by the judge. And that's the best Coleman can come up with?

    January 30, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. shoegazer

    "Hey Coleman,what's for lunch,lobster or cracked crab".........

    January 30, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. cnnnewser

    This is another political joke that is making our government look foolish.
    Isn't it time we got back to respect for our government?
    The republicans are ruining our country.

    January 30, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Marius R Rowell

    More votes than voters – again! Sounds like the Alaska elections all over again, except that there, of course there are so few Democrats no-one even bothered to complain.

    The hypocracy is striking, however. When 'in the lead' Coleman was very vocal about letting the result stand, but as soon as it changed he was up in arms for every R vote to be counted and every D vote to be discounted. Either accept the result or keep counting, but don't switch positions every time the count goes for or against you.

    January 30, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Chipster

    To Fred C. Dobbs:


    January 30, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. beevee

    Some one should tell Coleman that he lost the race by a razor thin margin. It is time to move on without wasting precious resources (time and money).

    January 30, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. Independent_me

    Coleman's dentures are too big for his mouth...

    January 30, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Ryan

    I am so tired of the false information. There were NO instances where there were more votes than voters in a county check your facts. Oh I forgot, republicans don't deal in facts, what should I expect.

    January 30, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. God Bless the U.S.A

    coleman just go away.

    January 30, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  16. Lee Bartholomew

    Not entirely comfortable with either of them. Both extremes. Although Coleman has the RNC fiasco in the twin cities on him.

    January 30, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Joe the Troll

    FRANKEN cooked the books? How? It's not as if they have Franken and his aides doing the ballot counts.

    January 30, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. steve

    america is and always has been an overall liberal country, our founders where some of the most liberal people in the world of their time, so many of you forget that.... and as to elite, boy I just don't get that one, why wouldn't we want to be represented by our best and brightest ie our elite, words like liberal and elite have turned into code words with meaning other than what they actually are, how some right wing types just revel in their mediocrity is beyond me.
    and "cooked the books" HOW?? get real, you radical right conspiracy people types are no different than and just as scary and left wing "bush ordered 9/11" crazies.
    if ALL you read is the radical right blogs you are NOT educated and most of that stuff is just soooo amazingly stoopid that it takes a real idiot running on nothing but their own fears and prejudice to buy it.
    coleman is a typical corrupt professional politicians out for himself, he's a scumbag and thats a fact, al's OK, he's definitely to the left but his hearts in the right place, give him a chance and see for yourself

    January 30, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Just Wondering

    Now that Coleman's lawyers are arguing that the rules for absentee ballots should not apply (i.e. you can have someone forge your signature on the application), can we please count the absentee ballot from the (ficticious) illegal alien who also voted in person? Oh wait, he probably voted for Franken.

    January 30, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  20. jim

    Heads or tails boys

    January 31, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |