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.”

Here's the provision cited by both camps:

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. No Incumbents 2010

    Al Franken, the only Senator to get more votes from people who did not actually vote.

    January 12, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  2. CM

    Regardless of how this ends up, state law is clear. Whatever their reasons are, the state law that Al has to follow is "In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest." Since the election is still in contest by lawsuits and court cases, the certificate can NOT be issued without breaking state law. Yes, it could be some underhanded attempt to be a power-tripping politician, but it could also just be that he's trying to follow state law as he is supposed to.

    On another note, what the h*** does it matter whether you're a Republican or a Democrat? Both sides complain just as much! Republicans complain that they aren't letting the election become finalized, while Democrats complain that the election isn't clear-cut and should be tested. Both sides are complaining about nothing, since it's not going to be solved any quicker by people arguing and whining. It's state affairs, and will be solved by state-based systems, not a flame war on some forum or blog.

    January 12, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Melissa B ~ California

    The republican / independent sore losers are showing their true colors once again– they'll make up anything to discredit the opposition's candidacy or the final ballot count. This is why they continue to lose elections and voters–most of America is sick of the distortions and innuendos. If you don't have a legitimate gripe, you'll just spread the lastest wild rumors, hoping it will further your conservative agenda. It's time to quit with the gossip politics and get real!

    January 12, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  4. Houff

    Quite a few differences from the 2000 situation. In Florida, Bush started, and remained (even in media conducted recounts many weeks later) ahead, albeit by a small margin. In this case Coleman started out ahead and the tally changed to favor Franken (I cannot say the re-count was tainted, and will leave that issue for others.)

    Franken at least asked for a state-wide recount. Gore only wanted a recount in democrat-controlled counties (who, by the way were responsible for the butterfly ballot that created so much apparent confusion– the GOP had no hand in that).

    Not sure how Franken came down on military absentee ballots, while Gore fought those in Florida.

    Coleman has filed one action to contest the count. As I recall, Gore launched a large number of lawsuits, every one of which he lost at the trial court level, even courts with Democrat judges.

    In both Florida and Minnesota, however, I think it is clear that the margin of victory was smaller than the margin of error. We have to find a cure for that...

    January 12, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Penny from MN

    I am very proud of Al Franken's very quiet actions in this matter. Given his past, he could have easily done another SNL-type circus act on this (think Roland Burris) but has not. Coleman, on the other hand, is a guy who has some serious ego issues – the "it's all about me" thing. I am one of the people of Minnesota who is being affected by this legal mess. Take it on the chin and let Minnesota have full respresentation.

    As far as the jokes regarding who Minnesota votes for – very tacky. At least we have the choice of a third party...

    January 12, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    ALAN FROM PA. January 12th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

    I don't know if i want to agree with you or not. Bigger idiot than pelosi, that is a hard show to top.

    January 12, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. tess

    as a republican it would be funny to see franken, hillary(with bill in the background of course) burris (with the spector of blago in the background) and barney frank and charlie rangel running the country. as an american first it scares the living hell out of me!

    January 12, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. Kevin in Ohio

    He is too eager to usurp the seat. God help America for electing this idiot.

    January 12, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. liz

    The reason the police have suspected drunk drivers try and say the ABCs backwards as a sobriety test instead of counting is that the technique was field tested in Minnesota and they found that, even sober, residents had trouble, +25, -2, 225, 50, 6, +7, -3, 480....

    January 12, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Rich

    I wish Norm Coleman would give up and stop trying to deny Minnesota its Senator. You know, it is really bad when the INCUMBANT senator gets ONLY 42 percent of the vote–if Minnesotans thought you should be reelected Norm, dontcha think they would have given you more of their votes!

    January 12, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Matt, Chico, CA

    "Meh" if you really think that Franken speaks the truth then do us a favor and go back inside and stay there

    January 12, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. stan

    Do people mentioning ACORN even know what ACORN is and all that they do? John McCain does and salutes them. They spend more time providing free tax preparation for low income people than on voter registration. And is it wrong to try to register the 50,000,000 or so ELIGIBLE voters who are not registered?

    January 12, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. SMK

    If I were Norm, I'd fight this too. He's been cheated an Election Night win by another crooked Democrat. They need to have another recount and verify every single ballot that, that person is living or dead, or even voted for that matter. Who cares if it takes a year to figure out. The Dem's clearly cheated to give Al the win. Explain to me how you can have more ballots cast then there are registered people in so many counties?

    Dem's keep claiming Repub's are corrupt. I guess they keep forgetting to look in the mirror.

    January 12, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Jackie in Dallas

    OK, so it is OK for Coleman to ask for Franken to concede the election on November 4th, even knowing that there would be a mandatory recount, but it is NOT OK for Franken to ask to be certified? I'm not saying he should be, if it is counter to state laws, but why can't he ASK? He isn't demanding, he is asking, and his lawyer has some valid points. Now that he has been denied, he should patiently wait until this suit by Coleman is resolved. I'm not from Minnesota, but I actually admire the fact that they have policies and procedures in place to deal with this type of situation. Now, let them get on with the legal stuff and resolve the issue so that the state will be represented appropriately in the Senate. Would be nice if it were before the Inauguration so that whoever becomes the Senator will be in place in time to work with the rest of the Congress to help President Elect Obama get on with HIS job.

    January 12, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  15. Peter (CA)

    richard rohde-no sign in your posts that you are a racist.

    But there are som pretty magical signs in there.

    January 12, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Peter

    This is beyond stupid, but quite clever. We all know that Franken has won, but if it doesnt drag on Coleman will still have a reputation and try to pull Franken down. We need Franken to be popular and Coleman to go down in flames

    January 12, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. Chris B.

    I am a democrat and didn't vote for Franken!
    I never vote the party line as I research the candidates first.

    January 12, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  18. alvino

    Pawlenty is as crooked as Normy, but he will eventually have to let Big Al go to Washington.

    January 12, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. Chris

    To Alan from PA:

    Oh really? I wasn't aware that you knew Nancy Peloci or Al Franken well enough to make such a judgement. Who the hell are you to think that you know the status of their IQ's? Please, get over yourself before you hurt someone.

    January 12, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. Matt from St. Louis

    one down 49 left to go

    January 12, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Gary

    I hope Coleman gets just because of the arrogant statement of Harry Reid who said, "Norm Coleman will never serve in the Senate again!". Who is Reid to rule on the future votes of Minnesotans?

    These guys in power think the universe revolves around them and their wishes.

    January 12, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. fred

    No Meh, Republicans don't like Al because he is stupid. He is a comedian and a talk show host. It would be like Sean Hannity or Oprah running for senate.

    January 12, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Jim

    Coleman just needs to go away. Its over.

    January 12, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Chad, Wisco

    Minnesota election or BCS Bowls??? You choose which is more messed up. Go ahead, the results might suprise you.

    January 12, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. rodlang

    First a wrestler as governor and now a not so funny comic as senator. What's in the drinking water in MInnesota?

    January 12, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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