Minnesota Paper That Endorsed Coleman Scoffs At Re-Do Election

04/05/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

A Minnesota newspaper that endorsed Norm Coleman for Senate is calling on state officials to ignore the former Senator's call to overturn the election results on the basis of objectionable tallies.

New Ulm Journal editorialized on Thursday that, absent "proof of voter fraud or systemic unfairness," the court system in Minnesota "should ignore the call to overturn the election."

In penning the piece, the paper -- which supported the former Senator during the campaign -- became one of a series of news outlets to weigh in critically on Coleman's late-in-the-recount plea. WCCO's Esme Murphy declared that "there is no smoking gun to show that Coleman was robbed." Lori Sturdevant of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, wrote that Coleman's "suggestion that 'the court is going to have to reflect'" on an election do-over, is just another of his "many legally fanciful ideas." And the Minneapolis City Pages ran the headline: "Coleman suggests an election redo, state cringes."

The growing frustration is owed to a variety of factors. For starters, voters aren't being properly or proportionately represented in Washington D.C. And the lack of a U.S. Senator -- regardless of political party -- has drawn the concern of a host of officials. More technically, the recount process in Minnesota has, despite its flaws, been remarkably comprehensive -- a level of detail likely to be unmatched in any re-do election.

"The whole process -- now absurdly lengthy -- was designed to assure accuracy in the tally," said Tom Gerety, a legal professor at New York University and former president of Trinity and Amherst College. "We all know that there is inevitable imprecision; but this is about as precise as it gets and all the statistics in the world can't argue with a certified margin of even one vote."

In strict legal terms, Coleman's options are limited. As noted in the Minnesota Post: Minnesota law contains no provision for a do-over election, hence, "a law on do-overs would either have to be enacted by the Legislature, or be created on the fly, by a judge (or group of judges)." The former Senator's venues for appeal are either to the three-judge panel overseeing the recount, the Minnesota Supreme Court; or the U.S. Supreme Court.

If all that fails, the issue could end up in the hands of the United States Senate, which could, with 41 filibustering Republicans, refuse to seat Al Franken under the current election results. This happened once before, in 1974. The Senate, after failing to settle on which candidate to seat, instructed New Hampshire to run a revote, which the state courts agreed to do. The precedent, nevertheless, does not bode well for Coleman. The margin of victory in that election, between Republican Louis Wyman and Democrat John Durkin, was as close as two votes. Durkin ended up winning the redo election.