By Michael Barone, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
John Hinderaker of Powerline succinctly states the crux of the case for Republican Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate race controversy, about which I've written previously. Minnesota state law requires that absentee ballots include the signature of a witness who is a registered voter. Apparently, some counties rigorously enforced this and others did not.
It turns out, not surprisingly, that the counties that are careful about applying election laws are Republican-leading counties, while the lax ones--Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis--are heavily Democratic. What this means, in practice, is that thousands of votes are counted in Democratic counties that would not be counted if the same voter lived in a Republican county. Coleman observed that we hadn't realized it until now, but every Republican who runs in a state-wide race starts with a deficit of several thousand votes for this reason. . . .
[I]f a uniform standard of strict compliance with the absentee ballot statute is applied, Coleman wins. If a looser standard of substantial compliance with the statute is uniformly applied, Coleman also wins. The only way Coleman loses is if a strict standard is applied in Republican counties and a lax standard is applied in Democratic counties. Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened so far.
Hinderaker argues, persuasively I think, that there is a good case for a revote, as in the New Hampshire Senate race in 1975. But my guess is that Senate Democrats will seat Al Franken the moment he gets a certificate of election, and that the only chance for a revote is that if the certificate of election goes to Coleman.
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By Michael Barone