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Coleman proposes conducting Minn. trial in stages

Coleman proposes conducting Minn. trial in stages

Minnesota's disputed Senate election would extend well into February and probably beyond if a three-judge panel hearing a lawsuit by Republican Norm Coleman adopts his proposed trial schedule.
In a filing Wednesday, Coleman recommends conducting the trial in stages. He said the case would proceed to the next step only if Coleman gains "a sufficient number of votes" to cut into Democrat Al Franken's 225-vote lead after the recent statewide recount of 2.9 million ballots.
A spokesman for Franken said he will submit his own, shorter timeline on Thursday.
The decision rests with three district judges appointed to hear the case.
Minnesota is likely to go without a second senator until the lawsuit is resolved because the governor and secretary of state say state law bars them from issuing an election certificate before then. Franken has asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to force the officials to grant him the certificate immediately, allowing him to take office while the legal battle moves ahead.
Under Coleman's proposal, the court would take up disputed absentee ballots first, on Feb. 9. Both sides claim in court filings that hundreds of absentee ballots were wrongly excluded. They want the exterior of the sealed ballots examined for voter compliance with state law and have incorrectly rejected ballots opened and counted.
A later stage in Coleman's plan would address ballots from Minneapolis that election officials say went missing. The board that oversaw the recount decided to use Election Day machine tallies for that precinct to account for the lost ballots.
Other issues for later consideration include deliberation over ballots with questionable voter intent and a probe into Coleman's argument that some voters had more than one ballot counted.
On the last issue, a group of Coleman supporters said Wednesday they would file legal papers to intervene in the case. They contend that as many as 150 ballots in firmly Democratic Minneapolis precincts were double-counted.
"If even one vote is counted twice, that dilutes and disenfranchises millions of other people whose votes were counted only once," said Tony Sutton, a longtime Republican activist.
The group didn't provide physical evidence to support their allegations, which mirror those being made in Coleman's lawsuit. They say that some duplicate ballots made to replace ballots that couldn't be fed through tabulating machines weren't properly marked, making it impossible to link the originals and duplicates. In some cases they say both were counted.
Recount tallies in some precincts exceeded the number of votes picked up by the machines on Nov. 4. Election officials haven't yet released the polling place sign-in rosters that are a more accurate measure of the number of voters.
It could be impossible to trace original ballots that weren't marked to align with a duplicate, as state law requires. The group's attorney, Doug Seaton, said it's too soon to say what a possible remedy would be.


Updated : 2020-12-05 05:19 GMT+08:00