January 3rd, 2009
12:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Tense moments as Coleman camp seeks to stop recount

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/art.getty.al.franken.jpg caption=" Republicans have said they will not allow Franken to be seated.."]ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - One of the last remaining steps in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race recount was temporarily halted Saturday morning when attorneys with Republican Norm Coleman's campaign attempted to stop the counting of about 950 improperly rejected absentee ballots.

Currently, Coleman trails Democrat Al Franken by about 50 votes.

The state's Supreme Court had previously ordered that rejected absentee ballots be counted if local officials and each campaign could agree that the selected ballots were rejected mistakenly.

Local officials identified 1,350 such ballots. The Franken campaign wanted to count those and leave it at that. The Coleman campaign took issue with hundreds of those and also wanted to add about 650 more. Since the Franken campaign would not agree to these ballots, the Coleman campaign sought the intervention of the state's high court. The court is currently considering their request but has not set a hearing at this point, and it is still unclear if they will.

At the start of Saturday's meeting, Coleman attorney Tony Trimble asked Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann to cease any counting today.

After about an hour recess to consult the state attorney general's office, Gelbmann returned saying the decision was to "not slow down this process today, get the counting underway."

"We are relying on the oral advice of the attorney general," he added.

Trimble wanted to respond.

"We understand the decision you've made, we–," Trimble said before sharply cut off by Gelbmann.

"Excuse me," Gelbmann said. "I think the candidates have had an opportunity to address this process."

The two men quickly became visibly agitated, with Trimble adding, "This is a public meeting, and I'm going to have my say. And I will have my say."

"Two minutes," Gelbmann said.

"It may be two and half, sir, but I wll have my way," Trimble said sharply.

Gelbmann repeated, "Two minutes."

Trimble then laid out his objection but said they would reluctantly abide by today's process.

"But we do expect that the Supreme Court does permit the review of additional envelopes," he said. "And for the record our willingness to participate in this process...maintains our objection to an inconsistency which is occurring as we speak."

The Coleman campaign has maintained there has been no uniform standard in reviewing and counting rejected absentee ballots.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie had hoped that the state canvassing board would complete the counting and allocation of these votes by Tuesday at the latest so a result could be confirmed.

A result would not mean a winner, however, since Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty would also have to sign off on the election certificate.

Both campaigns have seven days after the board certifies a result to file a post-election contest. Pawlenty would likely not sign anything until all legal battles are exhausted.

The unfinished business in Minnesota will likely mean Minnesota will be without a second senator when the new session is sworn in this Tuesday. Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has said GOP members would filibuster any attempt by Democratic leaders to seat Franken early, even if he remains in the lead, until the certificate is signed.

Filed under: Minnesota
soundoff (233 Responses)
  1. Bev

    It is so sad that the Democrats still are misguided and wrong about the 2000 election. Education people...he won the election fairly. Get over it. It amazes me how mistruths get spread around by the Liberals and people believe it. The Democrats are going to cherry pick the votes in Minn. and get Franken elected. Caroline Kennedy...who has no experience and has not been attacked anywhere CLOSE to as viciously as Palin will be a Senater in NY simply because she is a Kennedy and for no other reason. And you people talk about how crooked the Republicans are. And this is why I thank God every day for Fox News.

    January 3, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Floyd

    The margin of error in this recount is certainly larger than a few hundred votes. If the election officials in Minnesota did 10 recounts, they'd likely wind up with several Franken wins and several Coleman wins. The people of Minnesota are clearly about evenly divided. We might as well just flip a coin.

    January 3, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Byron in Minneapolis

    If you're a Republican and you don't like Franken, thats all well and good. You have a right to your own political opinion.
    However, I take issue with your totally irrational smearing of the good people of Minnesota. We are a state FAMOUS for our niceness, even earning the national distinction of having our people labeled 'Minnesota Nice' to signify our courtesy, respect, and high commitment to treating others with dignity.
    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    January 3, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. What's Up DEMS

    I say the people of Minnesota deserves an idiot like Al Frankin to represent them. I'm sure he will be selected because democrats have a way of cheating when it comes to counting balletsOur first and only trip to Minnesota will certainly be our last people were so rude and it turned out to be a horrible trip because almost everybody we ran into were hostile, unfriendly we couldn't believe it. We were treated badly at the motel**CUZ YOU STINK!!! *** Excuse me it was the REPUBS That Cheated***** Remember Florida!!!!

    January 3, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Terry Fitzsimmons

    The only reason the Coleman campaign wants to have more absentee ballots counted now is because they need a way to win. If he had been in the lead by 50, and the Franken campaign had been asking for a similar deal, any Republican would be up in arms screaming about how it's unfair as well.

    And peesue, I'm pretty sure the Bush campaign couldn't exactly have been elected "fair and square" when they wouldn't even allow a proper recount to take place in the first place. At least the state of Minnesota is trying to get it right this time around.

    January 3, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. MK

    "peesue" If you took that attitude on vacation with you I can see how people would treat you badly. I don't even know you and I don't like you just by the rude attitude you have, go away.....skit.....jump in a lake.

    January 3, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. BURNS



    January 3, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. steve

    republicans need the courts cause they don't have the people or righteousness on their side, some of you obvious republican TEAM players calling franken a "puke" and such just show your colors, just show that your republicans FIRST and amercians well... further down your priorities. let the constitutionally decided process take place, leave out the lawyers, let ALL the people decide. I guess now minnesotoans aren't "real" amercians to some of you, it is so CHILDISH how you behave when you don't get your way, you republicans installed a now universally accepted dolt as president against the will of the people and allowed him to use your fears and prejudice to rape the country, the rest of us where good amercians and respected the process and worked for change. GROW UP, GET OVER your silly TEAM ethics, BE americans!!!! NOT republicans

    January 3, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Ralph Ward

    Many voices here mistakenly lump Franken in with Jesse Ventura. Al Franken graduated cum laude from Harvard College; Ventura dropped out of a community college to become a professional wrestler. Franken is a successful author and one of the first progressive voices ever to be heard on talk radio, who actually beat Fox News in court; Ventura is an ex-Navy SEAL who promised to bring radical change to Minnesota state government with a "HOO-YAH" take no prisoners approach, but utterly failed to deliver. In point of fact, Al Franken is nothing like Jesse Ventura. In point of fact, he is a better choice for the Minnesota Senate seat because he is much smarter than Norm Coleman.

    January 3, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Andrew in MN

    In response to SMK (January 3rd, 2009 1:59 pm ET)

    There were no ballots found in the trunk of a car. That was a rumor that conservative talk show hosts hammered on. It was quickly debunked as false – our own republican governor even had to eat crow on that one and admit it was not true. Please check your facts. Posts like yours just spread rumors.

    January 3, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Mary

    Hey Chris, Dems didn't "order a recount." It was mandatory under Minnesota law, based on the percentage differential. Wake up.

    January 3, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Brenda C

    We don't want to go there. If you want to talk about someone being illegitimate it would and is obama. Starting from his conception to his birth in Kenya. Kenyan he was and Kenyan he'll always be.

    January 3, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. stuart smalley is the next senator from Minnesota

    Yay Al, you will make an excellent Liberal senator to properly represent a Liberal state.

    January 3, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. Who was Mike Connell?

    Question for@peesue,did they see your Alabama plates?hahaha

    January 3, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  15. David

    To STOP THE RECOUNT, ala Florida, hickory, nc – You obviously only read half the story in Florida. Bush did not object to the recount. He objected to Gore only wanting to recount select districts that had high democratic voter turn out. It was Gore who was trying to steal the election. If you look it up, an independent study went in a did a complete recount later showing that Bush did win Florida. "For example, if Florida's 67 counties had carried out the hand recount of disputed ballots ordered by the Florida court on Dec. 8, applying the standards that election officials said they would have used, Mr. Bush would have emerged the victor by 493 votes." However, I am sure we can both agree that paper election ballots need to be a thing of the past. With the advancement in technology, you surely would think we can come up with an electronic system that allows to vote accurately. I would suggest the machine capture an electronic copy and a printed copy with a receipt showing the voter their ballot. The courts should only have the power to force a new election when a current election cannot be accurately decided similar to the system used in Georgia.

    January 3, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. Juiceboxbiotch

    Hey all you people that are trying to say that Al Franken's team is the one trying to stop the recount... THE HEADLINE CLEARLY READS: "Tense moments as Coleman camp seeks to stop recount." Why would Norm Coleman want to stop the recount when he is the one behind by 50 votes? Something is amiss. Franken's side wants to keep counting even though he's ahead by a sliver... Sounds fair to me. Hopefully this will all be over by Jan. 20, we have much bigger problems facing our country than this.

    Al Franken FTMFW!

    January 3, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. Deborah

    Attn: SMK

    The third party candidate is former Senator Dean Barkley. He was named , by Governor Jesse Ventura, to fill the senate seat of Paul Wellstone.

    Also, please recheck your "Rush Facts". The trunk ballot information is completely false, and was stated thusly by the Franken campaign.

    I am a native Minnesotan, and I take tremendous pride in the fact that we choose our candidates – including Ventura – based on merit. Not on party affiliation or wealth.

    Governor Ventura came into office with a decent record for reform as mayor of one of our largest suburbs. He was elected because he was the best candidate at the time: beating Norm Coleman (yes – THAT Norm Coleman) and Hubert "Skip" Humphrey III.

    Ventura is well read, not terribly eloquent, and sadly, suffered the effects of too many years of steroid use. He was hostile and the people of the state would not tolerate his poor behaviors.

    If Jesse Ventura is the poorest example of a politician that you can come up with, might I offer up George W. Bush? Minnesota's economy did quite well under the Ventura administration. And as much as he would have loved to invade another country, unlike Bush, Ventura refrained.

    We would have 4000+ wonderful young men & women alive today, were it not for Bush's implusive invasion of Iraq.

    January 3, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Tim

    Obviously Peesue has a pea brain to match her comments. The MN residences are by and far some of the nicest and most intelligent people you will ever meet. Unless of course you can't comprehend that. I would rather have a Franken in the office than a criminal like Coleman. He's an idiot that has done nothing for MN.

    January 3, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. Rob Stumpf

    Not to be rude, but I agree completely. Republicans are notorious for stealing elections. <<<

    ha ha. Republicans! But not Democrats!


    All those corrupt city Democratic city machines, they never stole elections? All those years, when the Democrats ruled the South, they never stole elections?!

    January 3, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Cliff

    The recount was done because state law required it. It was done transparently and could be watched on the internet. It was also done by a bipartisan panel. Those who are talking about someone stealing the election don't have a single real example of that happening. They just want to yell but have nothing substantive to say. Minnesota has nothing to be ashamed of. Norm Coleman, on the other and, well . .

    January 3, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. chris@stl

    Wait till the recount is complete, and the winner be declared ..... to seat. Why all the fuzz now!

    January 3, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Paul

    Pardon me, dan devine, but why are Al Franken or Jesse Ventura not acceptable or legitimate candidates? Because they came from the entertainment industry? I've got two words for you:


    Get over it. Franken will do a lot of good for the state of Minnesota once he wins this election. Coleman would do well to save the taxpayers a lot of money and let the votes fall where they may!

    January 3, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. Anna, ATL

    Dee, I appreciate your position here, but as we all know, sometimes what is LEGAL is NOT at all FAIR.

    However, as a registered Democrat myself, I have to speculate the Senate Dems resistance to seating Burris has little to do with fairness and much more to do with the next election, fearing an unpopular Burris (and thus the Dem Party) will not retain the Senate Seat in 2010.

    January 3, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. ronnyg

    Yeah, right, "peesue."

    "The democrats have a way of cheating when it comes to ballets."

    First of all, a ballet is a dance recital. Republicans have a way of showing that they're idiots.

    Do you happen to remember 2000, when Bush lost the popular vote by 500,000 votes or so, and also got the Conservative supreme court to stop recounting the ballots by hand, because that would have led to the truth?

    And you were treated rudely on one trip to Minnesota so the whole state sucks? Typical republican, everything-is-black-and-white stupidity.

    Republicans are stupid, and deserve the crappy economy Bushco led us into; the majority of the country, who supported Obama, deserve the turn-around that will begin in 2009.

    January 3, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Brett

    Al Franken is same as AL Gore who like to be cheater, "count every vote"...therefore, every vote should be COUNT in right way, not count the mistake vote ballet.

    Once, you're mistake in ballet, it is NOT count as it is law... why does all D alway complain.....complain.......complain.....c o m p l a i n... as alway...

    history show proves!

    January 3, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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