January 12th, 2009
02:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Franken request to certify win denied

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/art.franken.gi.jpg caption="Franken's request to certify the election has been denied."]MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Mark Ritchie, Minnesota’s Democratic secretary of state, said Monday he would not sign off on any document certifying Al Franken as the winner of the state’s closely-contested Senate race until all lawsuits related to the recount had been resolved.

"Minnesota law is very clear on when a certificate of election can be issued,” he wrote in a Monday statement. “Neither the governor nor I may sign a certificate of election in the U.S. Senate race until all election contests have reached a final determination. Even if the governor issues a certificate of election prior to the conclusion of the contest phase, I will not sign it."

Attorneys with Al Franken's Senate campaign had sent a letter to Ritchie and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty Monday asking them to sign off on the official election certificate that names Franken winner.

(Updated with Pawlenty and Coleman camp responses after the jump)

Franken attorneys told reporters on a conference call the two parties have an obligation to sign it under federal and state law since the seven-day period has passed from the time the canvassing board certified the results of the recount, which found Franken ahead by 225 votes.

Franken attorney Marc Elias pointed to legal precedents, along with the constitutional requirement that the Senate “shall be composed of two senators from each state,” in denying the law allows the governor to abstain from signing the certificate if an election contest was filed during that window. A lawsuit was filed by Coleman the day after results were certified.

"We believe the law is clear," said Elias.

No word yet on whether or not Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would attempt to seat Franken if the certificate is signed. Elias said they have not yet tried to reach Reid.

Elias also said they would be filing a counterclaim and a motion to dimiss "large portions" of the Coleman petition that he said is "riddled with errors" and rehashes arguments that have been made and rejected.

Update: Pawlenty also turned down the Franken request, saying state law prohibited any action on his part until all legal battles surrounding the race had ended. “I have a duty to follow state law and our statutes are clear on this issue," he said in a statement. "I am prohibited from issuing a certificate of election until the election contest in the courts has been resolved.”

Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan called the Franken team's effort an "underhanded attempt to blatantly ignore the will of Minnesotans and the laws of the state."

“Al Franken knows he can’t win this election contest based on the major inconsistencies and discrepancies that were part of the recount, and his attempted power play today is evidence of that," said Sheehan in a statement sent to reporters.

"He can’t and won’t be seated in a seat he didn’t win, so he is trying this underhanded attempt to blatantly ignore the will of Minnesotans and the laws of the state. The totals certified by the state canvassing board include double counted votes, inconsistencies regarding rejected absentee ballots, and inconsistent handling of newly discovered and missing ballots. These are serious issues that both the canvassing board and the Minnesota Supreme Court directed be handled in an election contest, and that will go forward as required.”

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Here's the provision cited by both camps:

204C.40 CERTIFICATES OF ELECTION.
Subdivision 2. Time of issuance; certain offices.

No certificate of election shall be issued until seven days after the canvassing board has declared the result of the election. In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest. This subdivision shall not apply to candidates elected to the office of state senator or representative.


Filed under: Al Franken
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Bob the Observer

    You can fix this Al. Just find 500 more dead people to vote for you and the majority will be so large no one can deny you your position. You might be able to add to lying, cheating, and stealing along the way.

    January 12, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Jean2

    If Burris iis seated by the same reasoning Franken should be seated.

    January 12, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. tom

    minnesotan here and if the republicans find a way to steal this from franken, they willbe voted out in droves for the next 10 election. we have enough of the republicans in this nation.

    January 12, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. Mike

    Hey the republicans are only doing what they learned from the democrats. If at first you don't win out right sue untill you do.

    January 12, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. 77 Gamblers

    Richard, gotta love fuzzy math and people, let Minnesota put another clown in Congress, like who's gonna notice!

    January 12, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Greed is not good

    They should just do a coin toss

    January 12, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Kat

    Who care about Franken? He surely isn't qualified to serve the position. Frankenstein is an utter and complete joke, but his state picked him. Way to go!

    January 12, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. chuck

    FINALLY THERE'S A WINNER.

    January 12, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Karen-Phoenix

    Seat Franken. Let Coleman go! This is almost getting rediculous.

    January 12, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. clifford

    Franken looks like a Dr.Suess character !!

    January 12, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. Marie banderas

    In 2012, wont matter anyways, only thing that WILL matter, is GOD, and if your on side of evil or good !

    January 12, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Rob

    Al needs either an old rabbi or washed-up comedian (moreso than he is) to appear at his press conference and throw his equivalent of the race card.

    Of course just the fact that anyone is seriously considering seating this loser just shows how screwed this country really is.

    January 12, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. f kim

    Al is very very smart with an IQ higher than most senators combined..but thats why the repubs don't want him office ... bush is more there speed..Al actually leans towards the right

    January 12, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. Ann

    Funny how democrats can use the rules to keep out Burris but then get mad when the Republicans use the rules to keep out Franken! I thought Democrats were the ones who complained about Bush following the law only when it was convenient, and now want to do the same thing? Does "hypocritical" ring a bell here?

    January 12, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. dittohead with forty names

    @ Richard.Alabama lost its state idiot please call home now.

    January 12, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. New Yorker

    So Al Franken's attorneys wanted to do something illegal? Imagine that!

    January 12, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Richard Larson

    The law appears to be quite clear on the subject and both officials are correct in their responses. The fact that Coleman's petition is full of issues that already have been adjudicated is immaterial. The superior court must make a finding supporting Frankin for him to win. I expect that any decision will be appealed into the Federal Appellate Courts regardless of who is declared winner. Coleman seems to be intent upon stealing this election from Frankin. I hope the court decides the issue with prejudice thereby denying Coleman the opportunity to appeal.

    January 12, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Dieter Zerressen, Denver, CO

    Al Gore won Florida, Al Gore won the popular vote. The Dems were not going to let the Republicans steal another one. This is how it's going to be from now on: every vote is going to be counted (if possible) and the true winner will be declared no matter how long it takes.

    January 12, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. WhoCares?

    Let's just wait until all the legal stuff is over.

    January 12, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. JOE KILOZ

    MR,,,,,,,,,,,FRANKEN,,,,,,,,,,,,,AND,,,,,,,,,,,,,DEMOCRATS,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ARE,,,,,,,,,,,,

    UP,,,,,,,,,,,,TO,,,,,,,,,,,,,THEIR,,,,,,,,,,EYEBALLS,,,,,,,,,,,,,IN,,,,,,,,,,DIRTY,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    TRICKS

    January 12, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Ken

    @Mike: Yeh right. Is that the view when your head gets lodged up your nether regions? With that view, objects fall up, the english language is written right-to-left, and G. Bush was a wonderful president. It must be nice to a have such a hyper-dogmatic view of the world that you feel no personnal responsiblity for having to interface with the real world.

    January 12, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Scott the Independent

    There are two ways to do this – one have the state sec certify Franken or two, speed up the investigation, indictment and prosecution of Colemen. I vote for the latter.

    January 12, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. bill

    It is so bad that Norm "he loser" Coleman has placed his needs before those of the State of Minnesota. The loser doesn't care that Minnesota may need another senator during the stimulus debate. We all know the infrastructure of Minnesota is solid

    January 12, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Malcolm A. Cline

    My whole take on this "too close to call" election in Minnesota is that it is obvious that neither man can claim to adequately represent his state. It is my opinion that in cases where a general election produces two nominees that are separated by less than a half percent of the votes cast, both nominees be prevented from taking office and a new election be held with new representatives from each party.

    The expense and delay of a new election can certainly be no worse than the situation we currently have in Minnesota and should easily produce a winner that has more support from the electorate. No doubt this would take a constitutional amendment to implement, but would make more sense than the current situation where no matter who wins, half the state will be unhappy.

    January 12, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Matt

    If Franken is smart he'll show tact by not pushing this particular issue and will wait for the Sec of State to sign after he wins the court battle. If he wants to behave like a GOPer, he'll throw a tantrum.

    @ Jean2

    This is nothing like the Burris situation. Burris was validly APPOINTED by a sitting Governor and the Sec of State signing or not signing the certificate did not affect the validity of the APPOINTMENT. Here, we have a situation that involves a contested ELECTION and until a Court of law decides one way or the other, the outcome technically remains uncertain.

    January 12, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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