Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Citizen journalist gives Strib a lesson

The Minneapolis Star Tribuen yesterday headlined:

Senate recount: Minneapolis gives up on 133 ballots, but they still have pull

How they got away and deciding whether to count them are just some of the loose ends in the Franken-Coleman race.
The story included:

… As they called things off, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign raised concerns that "political spin" by DFLer Al Franken's camp might be affecting whether the ballots ultimately will be counted. …

A decision about whether to count the precinct's votes as tallied on Election Day is likely to be made this week when the state Canvassing Board meets. …

The Coleman campaign questioned suspending the search and expressed worry that the Franken campaign may have influenced a suggestion by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie that there is precedent for counting vote totals from Election Day when similar mistakes have occurred.

The Minneapolis precinct is heavily Democratic, and calculations indicate that leaving the missing ballots out of the count could cost Franken a net of 46 votes. That's a potentially important number in a race where Coleman held a 192-vote edge after the recounting, not including several thousand challenged ballots, according to Star Tribune totals. ....

"The decision by a senior member of the secretary of state's office, as well as the secretary of state himself, to insist there are missing ballots when there are any number of other plausible scenarios is disappointing. With today's news, we would hope further review of these other scenarios will be conducted, rather than just accepting the political spin of the Franken campaign." …

The entire Strib story’s here.


Mr. Franken and his supporters are delighted his fellow Democrat Secretary of State Mark Ritchie seems inclined to “count” the missing ballots.

Ritchie hasn’t said exactly how such “counting” will be done, but it will likely involve “projecting” (really assuming) that the Coleman-Franken breakdown among the 133 ballots would be the same as it was for the rest of the precinct’s Coleman-Franken vote.

Since the precinct went heavily for Franken, he’d be apportioned the lion’s share of the missing votes “counted.”

But such a bogus “count” doesn’t explain why those 133 votes are missing. Were they, for example, actually overwhelmingly for Coleman? We don’t know.

The Strib’s story doesn’t say how or why we can with any confidence assume the missing ballots would favor Franken.

Then there’s the crucial “chain of custody” matter.

The Strib doesn’t mention that, either.

But a citizen journalist does.

Under the heading
“One argument I like” marktrail3 on Dec. 9, 08 at 12:41 PM posts on the story thread - - -

One Sen. Coleman argument I like.. is that when you "find," either "missing" votes or "absentee" ballots ... is they fall outside the official chain of custody. When anybody can have access to ballots . . . you're begging for fraud. Ergo, those ballots shouldn't count.

The Coleman people have repeatedly raised the break in the “chain of custody” issue.

It’s critical.

Who would buy property if a title search revealed a break in the chain of title (the chain starting in the first case with proper possession of the property and thereafter continuous proper property transfers by each succeeding owner)?

Those 133 ballots are unaccounted for since last week. Finding them now even “right where they were supposed to be but we just missed them” won’t restore a “chain of custody.”


Score another one for citizen journalists.

And thank you, marktrail3.