Monday, December 29, 2008

Sweet sixteen, part 3

Been there, done that. Now it's time for me to stagger belatedly across the finish line with assessments of the remaining four ballots that Norm Coleman asked the Minnesota Canvassing Board to reconsider. (The Board rejected his request, I think mistakenly in some cases.)

13. Hennepin County, Plymouth W3 P 15, Ballot 6 - I agree with the Board that this is an undervote. It's what I call a false start, not a vote at all. There are more than a hundred such marks among the 6600-some-odd ballots that were challenged. Some are mere dots, some are larger than this example.

14. Lake County, unorganized territory #2, Ballot 1 - This is not at all similar to ballot 13, but the Board got it right, too. Every voted race has two marks, one a check mark, the other a filled oval. It's impossible to discern true voter intent from that. If the non-standard mark had been an X instead of a check, I might have accepted this as a Coleman vote, but a check is an approval mark, so I'd guess that this is slightly more likely to be a Franken vote than a Coleman, but a guess is not enough.

The comparable for ballot 14 is Le Sueur County, Le Center, Ballot 28. (The other listed comparable is Dakota County, Inver Grove Heights P7, Ballot 2, but it is apparently not posted on the MPR site.) This comparable is significantly different from ballot 14. This voter's standard vote mark is a filled oval with a diagonal slash that is probably a check mark. In addition, however, there are several down-ballot races that appear to have been voted with slashes only. To complicate matters, the Senate race is marked both ways, the filled oval with slash for Franken and the slash only for Coleman. However, the Coleman mark is the only slash on the ballot that has a perpendicular mark across it, too, and that justifies counting the vote for Franken. Why don't I think this slash is a check mark rather than a strike-through? There's no precedent of other check marks on this ballot.

15. Carver County, Victoria P2, Ballot 9 - A successful challenge from Franken that took a vote away from Coleman, and Norm wants it back. The only race whose mark has a slash through it is the Coleman mark, so I agree with the Board that this is an undervote.

16. Hennepin County, Minneapolis W7 P8, Ballot 3 - Similar to ballot 15 but a little more difficult to call. This ballot has a unique mark next to Coleman's name on a ballot that is otherwise very consistent in its use of Xes to signify a vote. The Coleman mark has two Xes and a filled oval, and frankly I have no idea what the voter intended.

The comparables are:

  • Mahnomen County, Waubun, Ballot 1 - Doesn't appear to be comparable, although it is a puzzle why a voter would make the vertical lines on every race except President. I'd still count all the down-ballot votes, including the mark for Franken.
  • St. Louis County, Duluth P16, Ballot 2 - A potential cross-out and unique in that, so I'd call this an undervote and take away a vote for Franken.
  • Dakota County, Burnsville P10, Ballot 1 - If I looked only at the first column of the ballot, I'd exclude this Franken vote, but column three has similar votes, so I agree with the Board.
True to typical best-foot-forward presentation (so I've heard about high school debate, for instance), Coleman front-loaded his best arguments, but there are definitely some good arguments among them.

Final cumulative tally: +4 for Coleman, -5 for Franken.

Note: My calls here would deprive Al of 20% of his nanofilament lead. Too bad. Let the votes fall where they may.

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