February 13th, 2009
07:00 PM ET
14 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. EBC, MD

    THANK YOU JESUS, now can we just name FRANKEN the winner and MOVE ON!!!

    Jesus, how many idiots does it take to make a decision?

    February 13, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  2. Anonymous


    February 13, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  3. Tom

    Just give it to Al Franken this administration is already a huge joke...

    February 13, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  4. Ron , West Coast

    Old Normie seems to have changed his mind about " activist judges " who as he has previously stated , " made law from the bench "......
    Normie , do everybody a big favor, and get lost , move to Mexico, just go away !!! And take those BIG phoney looking False teeth with you .....
    Al Franken won fair and sqaure .......

    February 13, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  5. Texas Teacher

    Give me a break..... Coleman, get over it.... you cannot keep counting until you find something in your favor! Face it, you lost! We're all sick of listening to you whine and cry around!! The Fat Lady is singing! 🙂

    February 13, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  6. AMR, Minnesota

    Al Franken has no place in the governance of my state.

    February 13, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  7. R in Maine

    Coleman is still hoping that he can get the recount transferred to Florida.

    February 13, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  8. Xavier

    Norm, Norm, Norm,
    You lost, now do the right thing and go away. The GOP is like that arrogant, annoying relative that comes to visit and wont leave.

    February 13, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  9. Alan

    Coleman needs to give it up. The idiots in MN want an idiot in the senate let them. That is what this country has come to. We will get what we deserve when we start electing the likes of Franken.

    Duhh the judges are dems.

    February 13, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. TexasAnnie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    For Pete sake, just finish the count and declare a winner and get it over with!!!!
    The people of Minnesota are being short-changed by not having full representation in the Senate.
    Coleman was all for a quick resolution back when he thought he had the advantage.... now that it appears Franken has more votes, Coleman wants to drag things out as long as he can.
    Can we say Florida, can we say Ohio, can we say typical GOP.

    February 13, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  11. AB

    great news for the Dems
    Coleman do me a favor
    go complain to yellow belly Mike Galager and Dennis Prego

    February 13, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  12. Bernabeu

    no matter what happens....Franken will Officially be next Senator of MN....

    February 13, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  13. Joe T.

    Finally, give it up! Coleman is a sore loser.

    February 13, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  14. annie - Palin 2012

    Why don't these so called judges just say they want the far out nutcase liberal frankenstein and at least be honest and state the truth.

    February 13, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. Get on with it MN

    It is time for this to be over. I think Coleman just can not accept that he lost. Sh it happens Norm, you didn't win. Deal with it like a man. We have a country in dire straights and we need a full senate, not to mention all the money and judicial time being spent in MN.

    February 13, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. SueB

    I can agree with a lot of these rejections. One I disagree with is the absentee ballots dropped off in person on election day. My 84 yr old dad voted in person, but what if he couldn't have? What if I'd dropped off an absentee ballot for him on election day? This ruling makes no distinction between dropped off in person by the voter (agree if you can take time to drop off your own ballot on election day you could take time to vote non-absentee) or dropped off in person on behalf of another voter.

    February 13, 2009 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  17. Barbara

    Mr. Coleman should concede; he is giving "democracy" a bad name with his unwillingness to accept that he was defeated. This kind of tactic is was Mugabee does in Zimbambue (sp?) not in the U.S.

    February 13, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  18. HB


    February 13, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  19. big john

    Needed! One more tax cheat in government to replace recent drop outs. Go Al.Show us all how to do this, it might be the best way to stimulate the economy!

    February 14, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. toAlan

    Duuh, they elected a wrestler for Governor. And then he moved to Mexico.

    February 14, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  21. David pollan

    The right wing echo chamber continues to reverberate with accusations of a "fix" or "stolen election" whenever the Courts deliver Coleman a setback. America is a great country because we have a system of laws and legal review. How awful that the GOP would disparage the integrity of our system of government so readily when it suits them and accuse Dems and/or Obama of traitorous conduct when a ruling comes down in Franken's favor. Its evident that neither Coleman nor the GOP deserve to be the party in control at this time in history. The GOP needs to look beyond the self interest of its lost members and pitch in to help move the country and the economy forward!

    February 15, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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