December 19, 2008

"Coleman leads Franken by just 2 votes."

Do you think that's funny?

What's funnier?
The Minnesota recount
Al Franken
pollcode.com free polls

57 comments:

Synova said...

They should have a run-off.

I'm not sure what a reasonable "this is a tie" difference in votes should be, but people would have more confidence if they got to vote again and the winner was clear.

EDH said...

I don't think a Franken win will help the Democrats in the long-run.

His victory will be tainted and the Democrats will have no excuses.

Plus a petulant creep in the Senate who thinks he's funny.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The entire State is a joke.

I agree with Synova. A run off election.... supervised by Somali pirates would be a fitting answer to the problem.

AllenS said...

I think it's funny. I'd like to also see a trifecta. Franken, Kennedy and Jackson Jr., all make it into the senate.

rdkraus said...

Funny? Yes.

Not in a ha ha way.

Face it, they are just going to keep "finding" votes until Franken "wins."

ricpic said...

And the seat goes to...Caroline Kenndedy!

Hoosier Daddy said...

I still say pistols at dawn would be the appropriate way to put an end to this fuck up of an election.

siyeh pass said...

What's funny is the Coleman couldn't put Franken away.

Run-off's a good idea.

garage mahal said...

What a joke. Franken might win.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You know, I think it is about time for a constitutional amendment to standardize the electoral process across the country. This bullshit of finding a couple hundred ballots in some moron's trunk a week after the election nonsense has to stop.

This is the frickin 21st century and there is no reason that every precinct can't have a damn touch screen voting process and be done with it.

Hoosier Daddy said...

What a joke. Franken might win.

I think he should so the rest of the country can be reminded that that state is completely insane and that electing Jesse Ventura wasn't a fluke.

Good walleye fishing up there though.

Simon said...

Earlier this year, Judge Posner observed (in Crawford v. Marion Co. Elect. Bd., 472 F.3d 949) that "[t]he benefits of voting to the individual voter are elusive (a vote in a political election rarely has any instrumental value, since elections for political office at the state or federal level are never decided by just one vote)." Oops!

Interestingly, even after the high-profile experiences of Florida 2000 (decided by a few hundred votes), Washington 2004 (decided by a few tens of votes), and Minnesota 2008 (to be decided by a few votes), there are still people who will not vote at the next election, excusing this in the same terms Posner mentioned: they don't believe that their vote will matter.

MadisonMan said...

Run-off.

But Coleman and Franken shouldn't be on the ballot. It seems clear that Minnesotans want neither candidate.

Big Mike said...

What is it with people from Minnesota? If any of them had half a brain it would be the first half they had.

Simon said...

Hoosier Daddy said...
"You know, I think it is about time for a constitutional amendment to standardize the electoral process across the country."

Our fellow Althousian Eli Blake suggested something to that effect not long ago (I commented on one aspect of his post here). There isn't really a need for an amendment to accomplish what you're suggesting, by the way. Congress already has the power to nationalize federal election processes, see Art. I § 4. Granted that only covers federal elections, but as I noted in the post just linked, if we thought it was necessary or desirable to federalize state elections (which includes elections held pursuant to Art. II § 1 of the federal Constitution), Congress certainly has power to coerce and bribe holdouts, and might (although I doubt it) have power under the necessary and proper clause to directly regulate.

Darcy said...

Hey, now! Pogo is a Minnesotan. There is a sane person there. Just sayin'.

That said, I think the majority of Minnesotans will get the Senator they deserve...the obnoxious Al Franken. That's enough punishment for them, I think.

Simon said...

Can I ask those who are talking about a run-off where they're getting authority for that idea? You want to make up new election rules on the fly - and after the election has taken place? Quite apart from having enormous normative problems (election regulations depend for their legitimacy on being made behind the veil of ignorance - that was part of the problem in the Florida 2000 mess, when new standards were being improvised after the election and thus after it was clear which candidate would benefit from the rule), doesn't the idea run into both federal and state constitutional ex post facto problems? Perhaps there ought to be a new law for next time - e.g. "an election that comes down to less than 100 votes will be subject to a runoff election" - but I think there are huge positive and normative problems to changing the rules mid-game in this election.

siyeh pass said...

And Coleman's being investigated by the FBI...

Isn't democracy great!

Goatwhacker said...

Easy poll question. Franken has never been funny. When it was "Franken and Davis" time on SNL that was the signal it was safe to go get a drink, use the bathroom, whatever.

MadisonMan said...

Oh Simon, don't make me forfeit my dreams of a runoff -- what great comedic fodder! -- on so meaningless a technicality as the Constitution or laws or anything like that.

Party pooper.

garage mahal said...

Shouldn't a tie go to the guy not being investigated by the FBI?

ak said...

People are criticizing us for electing Jesse Ventura and possibly electing Al "I Hate Those Motherf@cking Conservatives" Franken. But don't forget Keith Ellison, CAIR's bestest friend in the upper midwest. He's the real feather in our cap.

JohnAnnArbor said...

What's funny is the Coleman couldn't put Franken away.

No, what's funny is that Franken couldn't beat Coleman easily in a state where Obama won handily. Lots of people voted Obama and Coleman, apparently. Gosh darn it, people just don't like Franken that much.

Simon said...

garage mahal said...
"Shouldn't a tie go to the guy not being investigated by the FBI?"

Why? If we were talking about someone who had been indicted, or someone who had actually been convicted - Ted Stevens, for example - I might agree, but investigating can't be equated even to preparing to charge, let alone actually charging. Besides, a state that adopted such a rule would be steering very close to the rocks of Thornton: such a rule would be tantamount to adding additional qualifications to those prescribed by Article I.

Simon said...

MadisonMan said...
"Oh Simon, don't make me forfeit my dreams of a runoff -- what great comedic fodder!"

I deny categorically that anything Al Franken is involved in can be funny.

;)

(Except, to the extent it's a concession, Trading Places. But one bit part appearance from Franken can't spoil an entire movie.)

Cedarford said...

garage mahal said...
Shouldn't a tie go to the guy not being investigated by the FBI?

Being investigated is one thing. Being convicted and admitting culpability is another:

Coleman - clean record so far.

Franken -
1. Admitted to and settled on tax and business fraud based on failing to pay worker's comp to employees for 4 years.
2. Settled out of court for physically assaulting a protestor.
3. Currently in court for a lawsuit regarding defrauding a charity investments.

Minnesota voters are the losers. Like with Ventura, they basically have themselves to blame.
Coleman has lost a fair measure of the popularity he had for various reasons - appearing more aloof, power-thirsty, cronyist as time went by.
Franken is Franken. Besides his slime trail...he sure isn't a Paul Wellstone who lived and breathed Minnesota as a lifelong fan of the state and it's people. Franken would run his vote and represent Minnesotans as if they were some exotic outpost - that generously gave up their vote to a liberal Manhattan Jew to do with as he sees fit. Indeed, I venture to say Franken will spend more time in NYC than in Minnesota if he is elected.

Henry said...

On the NPR show Say's You moderator Richard Sher has a knack for awarding points in close matches to produce a tie.

But can it be done in Minnesota? I hope.

Shanna said...

This is the frickin 21st century and there is no reason that every precinct can't have a damn touch screen voting process and be done with it.

So you want to make elections rely on Microsoft? Really? I like the paper ballot myself. Or maybe a touch screen ballot that prints a paper ballot that you can review and then sign off on. Not pushing a computer and hoping it doesn’t go down the memory hole.

As for the runoff idea, I think a runoff due to suspicious of fraud might not be a bad rule, but I don't have any idea if that is actually a rule. Or a runoff in an election that close might be a good rule. I don't know. It does seem there are shenanigans going on.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So you want to make elections rely on Microsoft? Really? I like the paper ballot myself. Or maybe a touch screen ballot that prints a paper ballot that you can review and then sign off on

I'm for paper ballots too, with the codicil that the voters should be smart enough to know which end of the pencil to use and have at least the intelligence that God gave a monkey to be able to follow simple instructions.

Since it is evident that many of those who filled out paper ballots in this contested race have epic FAIL in both of those criteria, the next best choice for selecting our legislators would be maybe a game of darts or thumb wrestling.

Seriously, how fricking hard is it to read a ballot, fill in the little bubble and then drop it into a ballot box? Evidently too hard for people in several States. How do those people get along in life without killing themselves by running with scissors. Gaaaah. People are STUPID!!

ron st.amant said...

Coleman's lead before the recount (which was automatic due to the closeness of the race) was only a lead because he challenged more ballots that did Franken which inflated his lead.

Apparently one of the ballots he challenged he did so because the voter wrote on his ballot "thank you for counting my vote".

How many of the people who hate Franken's humour have actually read his books?

Wahrheit said...

There's Gresham's Law, Parkinson's Law, Murphy's Law...and I think we need a new law regarding disputed elections--considering the previous Washington state Gov's race, this one and many, many others--which I will modestly call Wahrheit's Law:

In any disputed election, the mysterious ballots found in closets, car trunks, crypts, etc. will always favor the Democrat.

1st Corollary: The thoroughly screwed up ballots that were thrown out the first time will favor the Democrat.

2nd Corollary: The Democrat will always say they want "every vote counted," including the screwed up ballots. When the Democrat has a lead, every vote has been counted and it's time to stop the wrangling in the interests of unity, etc., etc.


Counter examples are welcome.

Synova said...

There has to be *some* rule in place for a tie, Simon.

I don't know what it is, but it would be pretty amazing if there aren't rules for what happens with a tie.

Also, I believe there was a third party involved in the race so a run-off between two people would likely have significantly different results. As it's Minnesota, I have no idea if the third party candidate took votes primarily from Coleman or from Franken. (Assuming I'm not thinking of a different race.)

Kirby Olson said...

Flip a coin.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I don't know what it is, but it would be pretty amazing if there aren't rules for what happens with a tie.

In local elections, a coin flip is usually the answer.

matthew said...

And to think, my girlfriend and I both voted for Coleman. There's two right there!

For people not in Minnesota, you should understand that there was no good candidate to vote for. It doesn't mean we're stupid up here. In fact, given the choice between smarmy, unethical and bad vs. smarmy, unethical and bad, we voted an even tie.

If that's not a sign of intelligence, I don't know what is.

Simon said...

Synova, I agree that there has to be some way of resolving a tie, but I'd cabin that a little. My point above was simply that rules governing elections have to be decided in advance of the election, chiefly because their legitimacy depends on the decisions having been made without concrete knowledge as to which candidate benefits. But the prospect of a tie is so remote - Posner's observation in Crawford, quoted above, is conventional wisdom - that it's entirely possible that there is no rule in Minnesota election law governing tied votes. I don't know, I've not gone through the books. If there isn't a rule, and there is an actual tie, then there's a problem. Perhaps in that circumstance, the only possibly resolution will be a runoff or a revote.

More likely than an actual tie, though, is the kind of functional tie that your first comment referred to, where the election will be won by a very small number of votes giving rise to serious legitimacy concerns. If that happens, there has been an election, someone won, and two things follow from that. First, there is no veil of ignorance; any decisions made about revotes, recounts, or runoffs will be made with full knowledge as to the stakes - which candidate will benefit and which will be screwed. Second, the winner will naturally contend that an effective tie is a no tie, that is, that it's narrow victory. They will further contend that this victory gives them a vested right to be certified as the winner, and that any attempt to have a do-over runs into ex post facto problems. Litigation will ensue, and to tell the truth, I'm not at all sure that I think it would be inappropriate.

Wahrheit, one of my co-bloggers observed a few weeks ago that it's a classic indicator of election fraud when, ceteris paribus, all of the "found" ballots - or even a disproportionate number of them - go for one candidate or the other.

matthew said...

Simon: it's a classic indicator of election fraud when, ceteris paribus, all of the "found" ballots - or even a disproportionate number of them - go for one candidate or the other.

You're co-blogger is not really statistically correct here.

It would be more correct to look at it as on the basis of historical statistics, which show that previously uncounted votes (in MN) generally and historically swing democratic. See this MPR article

Against that backdrop, a change that ISN'T swinging in favor of democrats on recount would be a sign of election fraud.

The best explanation I've heard takes into account WHY the ballots are rejected. The most common reason is they weren't filled out correct. Someone puts an X where or a check where they should have filled in the bubble. Who is most likely to do this.

Frankly it's the "creative" (read stupid) people and first-time voters - both of which break democratic.

For an idea of the mistakes that are being made, take a look here

The Drill SGT said...

As I understand it, the state law mandates a recount of the phsyical ballots that were found eligible on election day. What that has morph'd into includes:

1. counting new found ballots
2. using the old count, when they can not find sufficent ballots for Franken to match the eklection night totals in one precinct.
3. going through rejected ballots and reclassifying them as legit (but apparently mostly this is being done in Urban (e.g. Franken precincts


the Washington State rules seem in play. Count and Recount until the Democrat is ahead, then call for unity and closure

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Someone puts an X where or a check where they should have filled in the bubble. Who is most likely to do this.

Morons who can't walk and chew gum at the same time, can't make change for 50 cents out of a 1 dollar bill. Idiots who don't pay attention to directions, or think that they don't apply to themselves. People who probably shouldn't be allowed out in public unless they have a keeper with them to stop them from walking in front of semi trucks and door jambs.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I do have to say that many of these "challenges" to the ballots are pretty stupid as well. Common sense seems to have taken a vacation.

John Stodder said...

Reading is hard to get to nowadays. Between work, family, the daily business of life and the lure of the computer, we don't just set down and read a book like we used to.

Given that, what kind of person would waste that precious reading time with a book by Al Franken?

I could see giving an Al Franken book as a gift because it would get a laugh on Christmas morning or whenever. "Ha-ha, you got me a book by Al Franken. Wasn't he on Saturday Night Live? And look, he's calling Rush Limbaugh fat! Hahahahaha." But I would never expect anyone to read it.

The Republicans are going to raise a lot of money thanks to Al Franken.

garage mahal said...

Even by winning, Democrats lose.

Bob said...

I'm surprised this has gone on so long. In New York state the dead would have weighed in on election night and Franken would have had it.

Of course the upside for us New Yorkers is watching Chuck Shumer have a foot race to the microphones. And this just as he thought he found the perfect junior Senator...

Freeman Hunt said...

On the challenged ballots where the challenges seem ridiculous: If one side starts making ridiculous challenges, the other side has to do the same in case the first side's ridiculous challenges are successful.

Simon said...

matthew said...
"Against that backdrop, a change that ISN'T swinging in favor of democrats on recount would be a sign of election fraud."

That only holds if one makes a huge assumption: that this election is just like previous elections. That's such an obviously false proposition that it doesn't strike me as a sound base on which to rest any analysis.

Wahrheit said...

Still waiting for a counterexample that will disprove "Wahrheit's Law" (see 12:02 pm comment above).

Does anyone know of any election where mysterious "found ballots" favored a Republican? Or where spoiled, "undervoted" ballots, etc. favored a Republican?

The Drill SGT said...

Does anyone know of any election where mysterious "found ballots" favored a Republican? Or where spoiled, "undervoted" ballots, etc. favored a Republican?

no

The only small satisfaction is hearing Democrats argue that their voters are dumber and less capable, thus generating a higher number of flawed ballots

blake said...

What we really need is a "margin of error" law.

This is impolitic, because we're suckered by the essentially impossible (and meaningless) cry of "one person, one vote"!

You define a margin of error. 1%, 2%, 3%, maybe even 5% of the total vote count.

Any case where the result is within the margin of error, you call the election a draw.

Solve it by run-off, by coin-toss, or open a new race altogether, excluding the previous contenders--whatever. Just admit that, from a practical standpoint, we can only count to a certain degree of accuracy, and if the vote is that close, the will of the people isn't all that clear anyway.

AllenS said...

I heard on a local Twin Cities radio station around 3 pm that Franken was now ahead of Coleman by about 260 votes.

Simon said...

Blake, I think something like that would be appropriate for all non-executive elections. If the margin of victory is less than x% of the total number of votes cast, there's a runoff election, for example, and then we can haggle about what x should be (somewhere in the .5 - 1% range, perhaps).

Cedarford said...

blake said...
What we really need is a "margin of error" law.
This is impolitic, because we're suckered by the essentially impossible (and meaningless) cry of "one person, one vote"!


Good idea, but the critical national need for swift and fairly certain decisions now clashes with the transformation of US law into Talmudic Law - of endless argument and "due process".

It is a cancer that is eating away at America's ability to compete globally, have a workable justice system, and get things done in gov't and private industry.

It also bloats industry and government with lawyers and regulators who all get rich and create new jobs for themselves simply from stalling jobs or becoming experts at creating or fighting obstructive regulations and processes.

It may now take 10 years years to site a factory or get paperwork in order and clear all regulatory agencies to repair a bridge or change the rules in a dysfunctional prison. It is far easier to build the factory in 6 months in Indonesia, and to abandon any effort to fix a bridge or prison because you will never be able to point to it getting done on several performance reviews or budget requests...

As for the impact of America being transformed into Talmudic-style law in criminal and tort actions...

1. Lawsuits stretching 15 years?
2. Near-Endless appeals?
3. 3 million dollars from taxpayers to buy "all the due process imaginable pre-trial" for the guy that shot a judge, court reporter, and deputy in front of dozens of witnesses and admitted it? Then killed a federal law officer?
4. 53 million to try Zacharias Moussaoui?
5. Now we have democratic elections that are not decided by the people, but more and more by lawyers, lawyers dressed in robes, and post election money thrown at it...
6. It will take years to try Bernie Madoff, he will be free the whole time before then. And we can be reasonably sure he will face a far lighter sentence than someone who robs 1,000 bucks from a bank.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And we can be reasonably sure he will face a far lighter sentence than someone who robs 1,000 bucks from a bank.

Or who pees in public.

matthew said...

That only holds if one makes a huge assumption: that this election is just like previous elections. That's such an obviously false proposition that it doesn't strike me as a sound base on which to rest any analysis.

???

I think I missed the memo on how the election procedure was different this time around. And they let me vote anyway!

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Next up for a Minnesota Senate Seat - Adam Sandler. He has everything Minnesota look for in a Senator. He's Jewish, a former SNL alum, has no prior experience, doesn't live in Minnesota, and isn't funny.

Simon said...

Matthew: the election procedure may or may not have been different, but that's not what I'm saying. The analysis you propose assumes that those who voted one way in previous elections will vote the same way in this election, and that's untenable. For one thing, vote tallies in this election for various candidates break in different ways to previous elections. For another, there are several hundred thousand additional voters in this election as compared to previous elections; the choices of that bloc would be dispositive even if we grant your assumption that every other variable remained the same - yet your analysis can't tell us anything about the motivations and likely disposition of members of this vital voting bloc. (How could it? You can't ask us to infer their behavior in this election from their behavior in previous elections when they haven't participated in previous elections.)

Perhaps an argument can be made that "found" votes in Minnesota tend to break for the DFL, but it would be weak tea - and what, even if it were conclusive, would it prove? The conclusion wouldn't prove that fraud isn't taking place in this election; it would be equally susceptible to the interpretation that fraud was no less present in previous elections. Even the MPR story you cite hedges on this point: "Democrats are usually the beneficiaries of post-election tidying up by elections officials" by almost two to one, it says - before wanly observating that "[i]t isn't clear why that's true." We could venture a few guesses, I fancy.

gbarto said...

A speech I'd like to see a Republican give after winning a close election:

Well, folks. It's been a long campaign, and here were are, at the end. Now as you know, we're up by 523 votes. But now that they know how many votes they need, I'm sure the folks in [name of urban center] will have [Democratic opponent] halfway to victory by morning.

It's a disappointment, of course, but as we know, winning by five or six hundred votes just isn't enough in this state when your opponent has a D after his name. So to save everyone a lot of trouble, I concede.

Thank you and good night.


What could the Democrats say?