December 17th, 2008
06:03 PM ET
14 years ago

Minnesota judge to GOP lawyer: This is not the Florida recount

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The canvassing board met this week in Minnesota to review ballots in the state's very tight race for a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs"]ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – A Minnesota justice hearing arguments from attorneys facing off in the year's last remaining Senate contest told a legal veteran of the 2000 presidential recount that his state is "not Florida."

Attorneys for both Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken presented their sides before the Minnesota Supreme Court Wednesday.

Speaking for Coleman before the panel of justices was attorney Roger Magnuson, no stranger to recount battles, who represented the Florida's state senate in Bush v. Gore.

If the state’s canvassing board includes any of the "improperly rejected absentee ballots" at the heart of the dispute, warned Magnuson, this race could easily turn into the debacle that ensued in Florida eight years ago.

He was immediately interrupted by Associate Justice Paul Anderson, who appeared to take serious issue with the analogy.

“I know you’ve been to Florida,” Anderson said. “This is not Florida. And I’m just not terribly receptive to you telling us that we’re going to Florida and we’re comparing to that. This is Minnesota. We’ve got a case in Minnesota. Argue the case in Minnesota.”

At hand is the issue of whether improperly rejected absentee ballots should be counted in a race that, as we speak, is still being tabulated. The Coleman campaign is responsible for initiating the court proceeding, and their argument is to keep the rejected absentee ballots out because, as they’ve maintained, each county does not have a uniform way of considering, reviewing, and then either rejecting or accepting, any of the originally rejected absentee ballots.

The justices expressed to the court that a decision would be “forthcoming” and no further details were given.

The panel of justices was slimmed down slightly — two members of the traditionally seven-member panel, including the chief justice, were absent because of their duties as appointees on the Secretary of State’s canvassing board. That board is involved in a multi-day process of sorting through almost 1500 challenged ballots.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Walt, Belton,TX

    Sounds like the Judge is about as honest and forthwright as befitting the reputation Minnesota has. Illinois might have its' work cut out remaining the most illegal, bankrupt (morally as well as monetarily), and disreputably governed state in the Union.

    December 17, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. rayster

    Thank God someone finally told the lawyers to shut the hell up and let them do thier job

    December 17, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  3. Joe in MN

    I'm paying for this?!!!

    December 17, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. J.P.

    Yes, this coming from the state that elected Jesse Ventura governor.

    December 17, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  5. J-Syxx

    [quote]Sounds like the Judge is about as honest and forthwright as befitting the reputation Minnesota has. Illinois might have its' work cut out remaining the most illegal, bankrupt (morally as well as monetarily), and disreputably governed state in the Union.[/quote]

    Well Walt, it could be worse. It could be Texas, the laughing-stock of the world.

    December 17, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Red, Red WHINE!! made me laugh. Thanks.

    I can tell you support the republicans. I see where you get your retarded thought process now! Just so you's true, Minnesota is a different's a geographic fact. And they have different laws in each's a legal fact. They hear their respective cases regardless of the ruling in other's a historical fact. It would only take an idiot to start spewing off non sense about a case that is 8 years old and decided based on laws that are quite different in the courst jurisdiction.

    But you go right on believing the justice was being biased rather then pointing out a very simple FACT! Mn is NOT Fl....only an idiot would think they are...and that applies to the laws as well!

    December 17, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  7. Joe II in MN

    Walt: get a newspaper and start using the internet to learn something rather than run your mouth on an issue where you have absolutely no ability to speak. Why don't you have the ability? Because everything you said is a complete fabrication. In fact, Minnesota is at the top of the nation in terms of honest transparent government, and the only reason for our deficit is our governor. Unfortunately, we can't pawn Pawlenty off on Washington like you did Bush.

    December 17, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. Greg in MN

    Hey, lots of us are proud of Minnesota. There is a huge difference between a slow but systematic recount of every vote, and the kind of corrupt, reprehensible Florida stillborn quasi- "recount" fiasco that gave us eight years of Bush. Coleman really needs for all the votes NOT to be counted, apparently... wonder why. But it's a travesty in a democracy to seriously argue to NOT count votes.

    And the only thing wrong with Jesse Ventura was that he didn't look and act like a typical suburban Republican. He was all right.

    December 17, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. Corbett

    Snap, Crackle and Pop!

    December 17, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  10. JML

    Everyone in that room knew it wasn't florida the second they stepped outside that day.

    December 17, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. Sam

    If an error is known, that error should be corrected. If ballots were improperly discarded, that should be fixed. Yes, it'd be nice if every error in every county could be fixed, but practically speaking, we should do what we can. As far as the judge goes, a precedent set in Florida obviously doesn't count in Minnesota, so I can understand his being a little miffed at the attempt, but he does have to consider practically which errors can be corrected.

    December 17, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  12. Ken in MN

    So, if public officials threw out legitimate absentee ballots by mistake, the act of letting them be counted when later determined to be legitimate somehow makes this state corrupt?? What ever happened to 1 person, 1 vote? Or is it 1 person, 1 vote, as long as local officials decide they like how the ballot looks??

    If the ballots are illegitimate according to this states rules for acceptability, then keep them out. But if not, they are legally required to be counted.

    That the courts may need to decide a clear rule for what is legitimate so it is uniformly applied - sounds like a great idea. But to argue that the courts should keep them all out just because some local official decided that on election night based on an inappropriate application of the law – that is just not democratic.. (Oh yeah – that was proposed by a Republican...)

    *sheesh* - all reason and logic has gone to the wayside this year...

    December 17, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  13. Sally

    J.P, last time I checked Jesse Venture was not involved in any scandalous bribery for Senate seats, it wasn't discovered that he had hired a prostitute, he didn't illegally fire police chiefs, and overall did a decent job for the state. Maybe you've forgotten that the state of California elected the Terminator, and the United States once elected a B-list actor to the highest office in the land.

    And Walt, Minnesota has one of the most well respected political systems in the country. I don't know where you get the idea that ensuring that every vote is counted fairly is disreputable, but as far as I am concerned that's what democracy is about. This election was extremely close, and find it ridiculous that anyone would prefer the state to have dismissed claims of error or wrongdoing.

    December 17, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  14. gENO

    Wow, with judges like this who already have a bias against Coleman's attorneys, does anyone have any doubt how this will all come out?

    December 17, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. Concerned Citizen

    I am wondering if all this full is really that important, for it it comes down to a dead tie,,,,,,,, each having EXACTLY the same amount,,,, Minnesota law allows the breaking of the tie,,,, to a coin-toss..... WOW......... that says alot to the validity of polliticking in Minnesota,,,, But who actually thinks it more come to a dead even tie????? SO EVERY BALLOT SUBMITTED,,,,,,, MUST BE CONCLUDED UPON TO IT'S INTENT , AND BOTH SIDES AGREE TO THAT CONCLUSION,,,,,, AT LET THE VOTE TOTAL BECOME WHAT IT WILL,,,,,,,,, WITH A–L–L VOTES BEING CONFIRMED....... Just my opinion

    December 17, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. Concerned Citizen

    Sorry,,,,,, forgive my typos........... all of this FUSS

    December 17, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. Tony

    Roger Magnuson is one of the main reasons the Florida recount descended into chaos – it was his political maneuvering that resulted in the delays that Harris used to kill the recount. The sheer hypocrisy of him using that argument is staggering. Props to the Minnesota judge for calling him on that!!

    December 17, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Tina in Minnesota

    Walt you crack me up. The most corrupt President (W) comes from Texas. How dare you even imply our system is less than honest. Do us a favor and don't ever come North, we don't need your kind.

    December 17, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Sarah

    I LOVE these Minnesota judges. They aren't buying the garbage or delaying tactics. Count the votes and lets see where we end up!

    December 17, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. shaun from seattle

    It'll always benefit Republicans for votes not to be counted, because if they were, they'd always lose. Why can't we just get rid of that good for nothing party? They can't govern, their a bunch of crooks, and they don't care about anything or anyone. They spew hate and division, and they manipulate those americans who are less educated than a log to vote for them. What a joke!

    December 17, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  21. John

    Good for the Judge – we need voters not lawyers. No more stolen elections!

    December 17, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. Main Street America

    The Judge is right on.

    December 17, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |


    December 17, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  24. Steve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Coleman's lawyer tried a scare tactic on the Minnesota Supreme Court and got called on it. Good for Judge Anderson.. The case will be decided fairly and without prejudice. Republican scare tactics won't work in Minnesota like in Florida back in 2000. Even Floridians saw the error of their ways and the states' electoral vote when to Obama,

    December 17, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  25. Alex

    If the ballots were cast on or before election day, they should count! The solution to dealing with rejected ballots is not to throw them all out but to clarify and count them, still rejecting those problematic ones... Which is exactly what's going on in MN right now! Leave it to the GOP to try to win by simply ignoring a sizable chunk of the voters!

    December 17, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
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