This Just In: Coleman and Franken Senate seat a tie

It would appear, regardless of what both right and left leaning blogs would have you believe, that this race is over. 

Frankenberry and Count Coleman

Frankenberry and Count Coleman

The most recent news:  Franken won a decision on Friday to open up more ballots for counting while Coleman is suing to shut down the recount with the expectation that Franken might actually have a few vote advantage.  Sound familiar?  Do you even care at this point?  Dems are up in arms re: Coleman’s attempts to block the count but let’s face it,  Franken would be doing everything he could under the law to stop the recount if the shoe were on the other foot (apologies to the Bush family for the shoe reference but I couldn’t resist). 

Let me be the first to announce the outcome: THE WINNER IS: NOBODY.  With a result this tight (perhaps within 10 votes of over 2.9 million cast after Franken gets his recount) the Secretary of State and board of elections can call it a tie.  Since state law does not allow for a re-do, it’s up to state officials to draw a lot or simply flip a coin.

Rather than flipping a coin, I say they have a duel.  That’s right — a duel to the death (or something close).  BTW, a very patriotic and long standing tradition in this country (see Burr, Aaron vs. Hamilton, Alexander). Besides, don’t we deserve a little entertainment after this mind numbing recount business. 

Gentlemen, choose your weapons:

Yo Yiddisha Momma

Yo Yiddisha Momma

#1. Yo Momma: They both appear on Wilmer Valderrama’s MTV show “Yo Momma” and have to trash talk each other’s Jewish mother (example: “Yo yiddisha momma’s like a Liberal parole officer – she never let’s anyone finish a sentence”).
#2. Project Runway: they have 24 hours to design the perfect prison outfit for Michigan Gov Rod Blagojevich.  Tim Gunn will model each.  Jesse Jackson Jr. helps Heidi pick the winner.
#3. Ice Fishing:  a favorite winter sport in Minnesota, they each have to live in a cabin on the ice for a week with their lawyers.  Whoever gets the most fish or goes the longest without taking a Xanax or an Ambien wins.

#4. Pistol at 20 paces: Or, they can just have Dick Cheney aim his hunting rifle in the opposite direction and we’ll see which guy drops.

 Update from The NY Times (December 16):

Whoever fills the Senate seat is supposed to assume office in early January. If the race is still contested then, the Senate has the power to decide which man takes the seat, Professor Schier said. Democrats hold a majority, but members on both sides of the aisle might be reluctant to decide such a close race, he said.

If there are further legal challenges it may be out of the hands of Minnesota election officials.  The US Senate, then has the right to choose.  Perhaps Franken should just change his name to Kennedy, then he’d be an automatic shoe-in for the seat.

Jan 21, 2009 update: It would appear that being named Kennedy does not guarantee you a Senate seat .  It is now past “early January” and Minnesota still has only one Senator.  However, with Coleman’s lawyers still challenging the recount Harry Reid and other dems are moving to have Franken seated, according to The Associated Press:

“If Al Franken truly believes he won this election, he should respect the laws of his state and allow this legal review to be completed,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

When the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committe gets in on the action you know it’s moved from Minnesota to the big leagues.  But still no end in sight …

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “This Just In: Coleman and Franken Senate seat a tie

  1. Mike Easter

    I think a televised steel caged de.ath match might be more entertaining.

  2. Brian Stevens

    “Franken would be doing everything he could under the law to stop the recount if the shoe were on the other foot”

    Says who? Now you’re making stuff up. Historically Dems want all the ballots counted. It is Repo’s who want the vote count suppressed. Read up on Florida 2000.

    • Truman S.

      The Dems would play hardball for exactly that reason – they rolled over in Fl and learned their lesson: by any means necessary. This is politics. No prizes for the loser who plays by the rules.

  3. Bill Smith

    From what I can see, the state statues in MN don’t follow what you’ve said about tie votes. Close doesn’t count; there must be an actual tie vote (equal number of votes).

    A single vote margin is all thats needed to satisfy the law; what about you?

    B.S.

  4. Truman S.

    Bill,
    According to a recent interview with Minn Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, there is no provision in the state law for a RE-VOTE or do-over:
    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/news_cut/archive/2008/11/live-blogging_mark_ritchie.shtml

    Here is the related statute:
    204C.34 TIE VOTES.
    In case of a tie vote for nomination or election to an office, the canvassing board with the responsibility for declaring the results for that office shall determine the tie by lot.

    History: 1981 c 29 art 5 s 34

    With over 2.9 million votes cast and Franken expected to erase Coleman’s lead the results may be within 10 or so votes. With no way to establish that all votes have been counted fairly Ritchie may call it a tie.

  5. Bill Smith

    Truman,

    I followed your link, but couldn’t find the Ritchie statement you mentioned. I did find these:

    Q: What’s the likelihood of overturning the result?
    A: You do a recount not knowing what the result will be. Anyone who says a recount never ends up overturning a result, aren’t respecting the recount process. To predict the outcome is to dismiss the recount process.

    Q: If one candidate wins the first election, and another wins the recount, why not have a third count?
    A: No one wins the first count. It’s an automatic recount.

    Unless I’m mistaken, Ritchie clearly refers to a recount as an established process.

    BTW, you correctly cite the statute I also saw as to the process that resolves a tie vote. I was not able to find mention that a tie includes a margin of error, just equal numbers (standard definition).

    Regarding your comment “Ritchie may call it a tie”, is there a statute that provides for his authority to set aside standard number comparison, where even a grade school student can determine the larger of two numbers, to declare a close election to be a tie?

    Is it possible you are making some of this stuff up?

    Regards,
    Bill

  6. Truman S.

    Bill,
    Thanks for sticking with me. You said: “Ritchie clearly refers to a recount as an established process.”
    Yes, he has to – officially. I meant to say that the state can’t do a re-VOTE (I updated my comment to reflect this).
    And you said: “is there a statute that provides for his authority to set aside standard number comparison, where even a grade school student can determine the larger of two numbers, to declare a close election to be a tie?”

    This is where it gets tricky. In most elections a tie is an official count that ends with two exact numbers, as you mention. However, given the size of the vote (almost 3 MM) and sensitivity of the politics involved, election officials have the authority to call it tie even if there is not an exact number of votes for each candidate. Although not officially stated, this outcome has been mentioned to members of the press as a possible solution. If I were the loser I would dispute a very close count in the courts until the state runs out of patience. At that point they could call it a tie.
    So, yes, I am making stuff up (that’s what satire is) but it is based on real, although highly speculative, information coming out of Minnesota.

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