The ridiculousness of the Minnesota Senatorial election between Al Franken and Norm Coleman has reached its height, and the Wall Street Journal has been doing an excellent job of chronicling the details of how a close election can be stolen.
The final twist, which helped push Franken from being down by a few hundred votes to being ahead by a similar margin, was the decision by Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and the other members of the Canvassing Board which is overseeing the recounts, to count a number of duplicate ballots — in addition to the regular ballots filed by those same voters. In Minnesota, when a ballot is damaged, election officials are required to make a duplicate of it, mark the duplicate clearly as a duplicate, and store it separately from the regular ballots. Apparently, the duplicates in 25 precincts were not clearly marked, and in response to demands from the Franken campaign, the Canvassing Board decided to throw reasonable caution and responsibility to the wind and treat those duplicates as additional ballots to be counted.
You might wonder how we know those ballots are duplicates. Simple. In each of those precincts, after the votes were recounted, there were more ballots counted than there were voters who signed in at the polls. There were enough more to gain Franken an additional 80 to 100 votes. The only way for that to happen is for some voters to have voted twice. This poor decision is just one of many choices made by the Canvassing Board about which ballots to reject and which ones to accept which seem to scream bias, if not on the part of the entire board, then certainly on the part of Secretary Ritchie, who is guiding the process. Rules are being applied inconsistently and haphazardly, but apparently always to the benefit of Franken.
Throughout the process the Canvassing Board has seemed powerless to challenge Ritchie's partisan directions. Despite board member and State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson's having admitted publicly that "very likely there was a double counting," earlier this week, the Canvassing Board certified Franken as the winner by 225 votes, far fewer than the number of overcounts, resulting in a court challenge from Coleman. The final settlement of the election will be in the hands of a three-judge panel selected by former Minnesota Viking and current State Supreme Court Justice Alan "Purple People Eater" Page, who has a background in the Democratic party and seems to be sympathetic to Franken.
This shameful saga should be resolved next week, but it raises the question of why there wasn't a point in this process at which someone in the Democratic party woke up and realized that no matter how great their ambition and greed for power, they do themselves no favors by corrupting and debasing the process for which their party itself was named? After all of this, with the extensive attention focused on the Franken campaign's dirty tricks, there is no way that Franken will be taken seriously if he is seated. He will be a pariah and a liability and held up as an object lesson to others, rather like a Macbeth for the modern era. Franken is supposed to be a comedian, but making a joke of the democratic process really isn't all that funny.