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article imageOp-Ed: The Mire in Minnesota

By Patrick Truax     Jan 5, 2009 in Politics
More judicial involvement in a US election. This is the type of thing that can be found in Haiti or in Africa. But since 2000, more and more elections are decided from the bench.
One of the greatest things about America is our ability to choose who we want to represent us. This fundamental right, established many years ago, has long been the one thing that separated us from the Third World and other countries that don't enjoy our type of freedom. In America, one's vote is his or her say in the running of the country that they are raising families in, starting a business in, or just plain enjoying the American dream.
The news of January 5 seems to belie these facts in the State of Minnesota. Challenger Al Franken will be certified the official winner of the Senate race between him and Norm Coleman. On election night, enough votes for Coleman (R) came in to send him back to Washington for a second term in the Senate. Challenger Franken cried foul, and what has become more the rule than the exception in US elections since 2000, immediately demanded a recount. Subsequently, ballots that were initially rejected got counted and ones that were counted, were no longer declared eligible. While this column professes no knowledge of electoral malfeasance, it would seem that courts determining "voter intent" might be more than a little motivated to rule one way or another. How is a judge to determine what ballots are "countable" and what ones aren't? Did the judge look over every one before he issued his ruling? Regardless, the bench ruled that recount was needed, and the lawsuits and accusations began in earnest.
When CNN announced the declaration of Franken's victory yesterday, the Coleman campaign intimated they would be going back to court. At issue are 650 absentee ballots that were originally counted, but not re-counted during the recount. So it looks like a judge will be deciding again, how best to count the votes, and which ones are legal and which ones can't be counted. But how does that divine voter intent? It remains to be seen, but honesty compels this column to state that whoever is declared the winner, there will be plenty of angst on the losing side, which could possibly lead to more litigation.
We wonder if a do-over might be the best scenario to divine Minnesota voters' intent.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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