February 13th, 2009
07:00 PM ET
6 years ago

Judges put limits on absentee ballots in MN senate trial

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) – Republican Norm Coleman was dealt a major legal blow Friday evening as the three judge panel overseeing the post-election trial issued an order that significantly limits which rejected absentee ballots may be reconsidered in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race election.

Counting improperly rejected absentee ballots to prevent what they say was voter disenfranchisement has been a pivotal theme of Coleman's case.

In their order, the judges said they are "confident that...there is no systemic problem of disenfranchisement in the state's election system, including in its absentee balloting procedures."

They also stressed that merely proving a ballot was rejected wrongfully — the issue much of the testimony thus far has been devoted to - is not sufficient grounds to request that it be opened and counted. That voter, they said, may have cast a ballot in person on Election Day, or submitted a subsequent absentee ballot that was counted.

They wrote that each side must prove that the ballots they want counted were "legally cast" and that cannot be done simply showing a ballot was wrongfully rejected.

The judges also outlined ten categories of absentee ballots that will not be considered in the trial because, as they write, the ballots in these categories "are not legally cast under relevant law."

Categories that will not be considered include absentee ballots submitted by non-registered voters, absentee ballots inside a return envelope not signed by the voter or absentee ballot applications that were not signed, and absentee ballots that were dropped off in person on election day.

Coleman is challenging the results of the state recount that put Democrat Al Franken in the lead with 225 votes.

Franken attorney Marc Elias called this an "important next step in the process" and said he was "obviously very pleased with the court's decision."

Coleman attorney Fritz Knaak said there are still a significant number of voters with rejected absentee ballots whose votes can still be considered.

"We're very pleased. Our definition of victory is that 3,500 Minnesotans whose votes we are trying to get counted will have the opportunity to have their votes counted," he said Friday. Team Coleman had previously requested that 4,800 of these ballots be ruled eligible to be reconsidered.

Trial will resume Monday at 1 pm CT.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    Great... does this mean that Franken can vote now?

    February 13, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. howie

    They will continue to count until Franken is a clear winner.A tax cheat who doesn't deserve to be in the senate. What a shame

    February 13, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  3. LYNETTE IN CA

    YEA!
    GO AL!

    February 13, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. dittohead with forty names

    Bye bye Normie.

    February 13, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. COUNTRY FIRST

    Coleman...please leave ...u know that you lost – just take it like a man and let Minnesotans move on – goshhhhhhhhhh what a power hungry person!!!

    February 13, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. Tom

    How is it that 0 (that is 0) republicans (the party of "W" ) the president who put the entire country in financial meltdown could not find a way to side with a President who's job it is to save" AMERICAN jobs" and put AMERICANS' to work!!!!! Yet 7 Democrats had the -alls to look at the whole package and decide that maybe this may not be 100% right.
    Althought it would be nice to get 100% of the vote I'm proud to see the Democratic Party actually vote with their minds not their party-

    (P.S. I'm an independant voter who has voted for both Reagan and Bush #1)

    February 13, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  7. Justified Cynic

    Folks, this is what a STOLEN election looks like. I'd be willing to bet that everyone of these judges are registered Democrats. What a screwed up state.

    February 13, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  8. finally

    Finally, may this election..........END...............................

    February 13, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. Steve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    One step closer for Al Franken to be confirmed as the next Senator from Minnesota. Only a matter of time.

    February 13, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  10. Tom

    As one would expect, Minnesota is moving forward calmly to a reasonable resolution.

    February 13, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Art Black

    How much longer is this going to drag on? It's getting to the point where whichever of them is declared the winner, they will have lost so much credibility that their tenure as a senator will be severely tarnished.

    February 13, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. bsmith171

    need a revote. the USA has become a third world counrry and can't even count the votes.

    February 13, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. Irony

    Goodbye former seanator, hello Al!

    Funny that Mr C wasn't all worked up about the voter's being disenfranchised when he said that it was in the countries best interest for Al to concede before the mandatory recount.

    Hypocritical Republican is the Norm

    February 13, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. jaye

    Coleman lost....lets get on with it.

    February 13, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. Lori

    Hurry up Franken and get to Washington. We need to keep those Republicans who want our President and Americans to fail, in check.

    February 13, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. The Truth

    And thus, the theft was completed.

    February 13, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  17. Ben in Dallas

    Norm Coleman is typical of the republican mentality. He believes in excluding the poor and blacks, and believes in the myth that all absentee voters are republican. The judges are following the rule of law not political doctrine. How disapointed Coleman must be.

    February 13, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  18. chris

    Aww...poor Republicans just can't win can they. Without a lawsuit they don't have a chance to manipulate the system. Karma has bit them in the bum.

    February 13, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Cue GOPers claiming this is a conspiracy...

    February 13, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  20. Franky

    Check this out...is a bill.

    "About This Legislation:
    1/7/2009–Introduced. Sanctity of Human Life Act – Declares that: (1) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human and is the person's paramount and most fundamental right; (2) each human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and (3) Congress, each state, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have the authority to protect all human lives."

    Now, check this one, not a bill, but something let's just say..

    "Immediately after being sworn into office, the White House website was changed to reflect President Barack Obama's homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda. From promoting homosexual "marriages" to homosexual "adoptions" to punishing moral businesspersons to homosexualizing the military, Obama is promising to support virtually all of the intolerant "LGBT" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) agenda against the rest of society."

    Note: I see moral...punishing...agenda...LGBT, of course, ...let's see what else... you see where I 'm heading? LOL!!

    So, you have a life but if you're gay, you get whacked,? Sounds like our business, LOL!!

    February 13, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  21. Had It

    Just get this darn mess over with – for god's sake – it's been almost four months. Are their brains frozen up there?

    February 13, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  22. snowshoebob

    What are the things that need attention the most, well besides the housing market. I'll tell you, commerce as well as health & human services. What is Obama having a problem filling jobs for, both these things, I smell a RAT……

    The GOP is doing all it can, to destroy Obama along with america, thanks, america is watching and waiting 2010 is just around the corner!

    February 13, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  23. P. Y.

    It would be nice if they would finally get this over with before the next election day. If I lived in Minnesota I would be madder than hell.

    February 13, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  24. jaye

    Isn't Coleman in jail, yet?

    February 13, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  25. dems be dopes

    The fix is in.......again.

    February 13, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
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