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Challenged Ballots Will Be the Decider

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 11/21/08 14:12

by Dave Mindeman

It's all going to come down to the challenged ballots.

Having this recount dominate the news, 24/7, leads to some of the most incredible regurgitation of minutia analysis you will ever see.

Essentially, this race is a tie. When you get to the point where you have to determine an outcome by going through ballots which are unclear and mismarked, looking for voter intent, you have a tie.

During the first phase of the recount, the Coleman observers were challenging ballots at a much more rapid pace than the Franken camp. But during this last round, Franken observors have picked up the pace.

Challenging ballots has too many variables. First, you have the temperament of the people making the challenges. Are they forceful enough to push a challenge through any objection? Do they have a strategy they are following or do they use a challenge anything philosphy?

Secondly, and more importantly, is the attitude of the election officials. Some seem to take offense at challenges, as if it is also a challenge to their competency. On the other hand, some will allow virtually any challenge, assuming that the buck gets passed to the canvassing board.

Whatever is behind it, the challenge ballots are mounting.

I would assume the basic assumption is that a Franken challenge means a potential Coleman vote, while a Coleman challenge means a potential Franken vote.

The two piles have been moving toward an even amount for both sides. What it all means is anybody's guess.

During the early phase, the Coleman camp was challenging with a much higher frequency. Some have argued that the intent was to hold back enough Franken votes to keep Coleman in the lead at the end of this recount phase....so he could, once again, claim victory. Probably a politcally sound strategy. We all remember the powerful effect in Florida 2000 when the networks called the state prematurely for Bush.

During the the second day, the Franken challenges have pretty much caught up with the Coleman number. Are they trying to offset this strategy? Maybe.

Where this will go is anybody's guess, because it is not the number of challenges so much as it is the reasons for the challenge. Most of the challenge ballots will more than likely end up as legitimate votes.

The key number is how many ballots will require a true interpretation of intent by the canvassing board. That is an unknown number and that is where the election will be decided.

Recount in Dakota County: Methodical Processing

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 11/20/08 00:47

by Dave Mindeman

From Hastings, MN: Dakota County's recount is going fairly smoothly so far. Numbers aren't changing much and the counting is orderly and quiet. I spent about an hour watching the process. Just a couple of quick observations.

I would guess that each county takes it lead from the head election officials. In Dakota County, it would seem that the prevailing attitude fostered by the officials, is that a challenged ballot is like an "insult" to the process. Few ballots have been challenged and of those that were, the chief election official "pushed" the process to make a voter intent decision at this level. I'm not sure that type of gentle "coercion" is legitimate, but so far he seems to be moving things in that direction. To be fair, the vast majority of ballots are pretty clear and few challenges are probably worth dealing with.... still the time to challenge anything is now. There's no going back to recheck again.

The New York Times had a reporter at the Hastings (Dakota County) location and one person recounted the story that during the morning hours, this election official held up some challenged ballots for the reporter's camera and announced those ballots as "disenfranchised voters". Not true, of course, but demonstrates the bias he has about the process.

Still, all in all, most people I talked to seemed satisfied with the process and don't expect any serious problems. The county recount is expected to be finished by early next week.


Forget GM, Bailout Tesla

Category: Environment
Posted: 11/18/08 16:11

by Dave Mindeman

Ever heard of Tesla Motors?

With all the discussion about bailing out the big 3 automakers, the idea of a viable end product is really already being built.

Tesla builds electric cars. Take a look at their website and you can see that this is a hot product.....the product of the future. Customer satisfaction is through the roof and demand is high. But, the price is still prohibitive for mainstream demand and production is slow because they custom make the cars.

But Tesla is also a victim of an economy in crisis. So, if bailouts are becoming the "rescue" of choice, why not invest money in a real solution? Give Tesla the opportunity to retool and remake the car of the future.

Don't bail out the car companies of the past. The future is Tesla.


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