JANUARY 23, 2009
A three-judge panel rejected Democrat Al Franken’s request to block a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s heated U.S. Senate election recount, which determined that Franken won by 225 votes.
Arguing that that the recount process was flawed, Republican Norm Coleman contested the result and filed a lawsuit. Coleman says Democrat votes were counted twice in some precincts and that absentee ballots in some Republican areas were wrongly rejected.
In his attempt to block the legal challenge, Franken countered that state law and the U.S. Constitution specifically restrict any lawsuit over the results of a U.S. Senate election. The former comedian also tried to limit any court review to verifying math and other technicalities of the recount and canvass.
The court rejected both arguments, pointing out in a 10-page decision that its review of an election is "not limited to the purely ministerial task of ensuring that the tallies from the canvassing board are free from mathematical error.” The panel, comprised of a Democrat, a Republican and independent from Minnesota’s Second Judicial District, also noted that the state’s Supreme Court had ruled that allegations of ballot miscounts would be properly heard in court.
The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in St. Paul and will be watched closely since an important political post is at stake. Both candidates have been busy meeting with their respective national party leaders in Washington while their attorneys battle it out in court.
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