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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Coleman: "Dubious and Improbable Shifts?" Here Come the Lawyer

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 11/07/08 16:31

by Dave Mindeman

File this in the "it was inevitable" department:

Coleman Campaign Questions Big Franken Gains

Coleman is always great at asking his opponents to make the "grand gesture", i.e. Franken should wave a recount.... but when it starts to turn against him...bring out the lawyers.

Coleman trots out Cullen Sheehan again:

Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan complains of "statistically dubious and improbable shifts that are overwhelmingly accruing to the benefit of Al Franken."

You know, conversely, couldn't the Franken campaign assert just as realistically -- Why were all these mistakes in Coleman's favor in the first place?

The reality is, from what has been explained, it is a lot of human error. And many of the errors came from the Iron Range where the counting was going on deep into the night with some very tired people. Still, it would have been nice to see the correct totals at the beginning rather than trickle in this way.

It is obvious that both the Franken and Coleman campaigns do not trust each other at all.

So, Mark Ritchie, tread carefully.


Why Franken Could Still Win

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 11/07/08 05:31

by Dave Mindeman

It was really amusing to watch Norm Coleman make his case for why Al Franken should "do the right thing" and forego the state mandated recount....while the margin between the two was steadily shrinking.

It was amusing, but at the time I didn't see much chance of anything really changing in regards to who won the election. As has been pointed out in media reports, the reality is that vote numbers don't change much in recounts. But...they do change some.

As the numbers keep changing at the SOS site, during these final audits, Franken supporters have been slowly gaining some real encouragement. The expectatation was that as voting officials check their data and corrected an error here and there, the numbers would vary somewhat.

But the direction of the changes have been constantly moving in Franken's direction. That is what has been so unusual to me. Yesterday there was briefly a significant increase in Coleman's margin but it seems to have been a mistake because it was later taken away. In most other instances, reports have favored Franken closing the gap.

The number, as of this Thursday evening, is 236 votes.

That is a number that a recount can change.

But there are other matters that are developing in Franken's favor.

A Star Tribune article quotes Joe Mansky, a Ramsey County elections manager:

Mansky said that on average, about two of every 1,000 ballots are not counted by the scanners for various reasons, which could add 6,000 ballots in the Senate race -- more than enough to provide a decisive result.

We will see if that 6,000 number is real during the recount. But that number could go for either candidate depending on which precincts had the most problem.

Here is the more important point:

Typically, it's older voters and newer Americans who tend to fill out ballots incorrectly, Mansky said. Older voters are newer to precisely filling in ovals, he said, while immigrants "might have come from a non-democratic country and filling in any ballot is new to them."

It's the undervotes. The votes the scanner kicks out because it can't read the oval....but votes upon which voter intent can still be discerned by manually counting them. If those undervotes are coming disproportionately from new voters (which is highly likely), that has to favor Franken because a lot of new voters came to vote Democratic.

Again... in an election where the difference is several thousand votes, this probably wouldn't change anything....but we aren't talking thousands anymore....we are talking about 236.

There is also some reason to suspect machine errors in some places. As BradBlog points out regarding Minnesota:

The state uses all paper ballots, but in much of the state they were counted on ES&S optical-scan systems which "reported inconsistent vote totals", such that ?The same ballots run through the same machines, yielded different results each time? when the same machines were tested just before the election in Michigan.

Two of the three largest counties use the same Diebold op-scan machines which miscounted huge numbers of ballots in the January NH primary (among other elections), were used to hack a mock-election in HBO's Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy, and, by Diebold's own admission, regularly drop thousands of votes when memory cartridges are uploaded to the central tabulator.

I am not going to go into conspiracy theories on Diebold.... I just don't know about that. But, there have been documented errors with these machines and, again, with this kind of margin, they need to be checked and verified.

If the final auditing continues to reduce the margin (and that is not a certainty).... this could ultimately be a toss-up and the winner of this race will be completely in the hands of the recount. And more than likely, the courts.

But one thing for sure.... the legislative mandate that a .5% differential requires a recount was a wise piece of legislation.

Elections need certainty and both candidates should be embracing the need to see to it that every single vote is counted.


California: $4.4 Billion Tax Increase

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 11/06/08 17:58, Edited: 11/06/08 17:58

by Dave Mindeman

"It is now a revenue problem rather than a spending problem," Schwarzenegger said.

So says Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as he proposes a $4.4 billion (yes with a "b" ) tax hike in California. I would say we are going to get our first test of how the economy will be affected by such action. As California continued to chug along without any tax increases and a worsening economy, the budget of California went into an $11 billion deficit.

Schwarzenneger's plan is comprehensive:

Schwarzenegger's proposed $4.4 billion in tax increases includes higher sales taxes. He also alluded to bringing in more money through other "revenue generators." That might include boosting the registration fee for vehicles by $12 and taxing companies that extract oil from California, which he said would generate $528 million this year.

Policies that refused to increase revenues during the good years are now forcing tax hikes in the lean years.

I don't think that is the prescription for a healthy economy.

You reap what you sow.


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