Monday, April 13, 2009

Minnesota senate contest end in sight

A three-judge panel in Minnesota just awarded the US Senate election to former comedian Al Franken, according to the Associated Press.

A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Democrat Al Franken won the most votes in his 2008 Senate race against Republican Norm Coleman, who had already announced plans to appeal the decision.

Coleman has 10 days to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Once the petition is filed, it could further delay the seating of Minnesota's second senator for weeks.

After a statewide recount and seven-week trial, Franken stands 312 votes ahead. He gained more votes from the election challenge than Coleman, the candidate who brought the legal action.

The state law under which Coleman sued required three judges to determine who got the most votes and is therefore entitled to an election certificate, which is now on hold pending an appeal.

"The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the November 4, 2008, election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately," the judges wrote. "There is no evidence of a systematic problem of disenfranchisement in the state's election system, including in its absentee-balloting procedures."

I know some Republicans will never accept the outcome, but they should. As Scott Johnson of the Powerline Blog has pointed out (most recently in National Review) Franken may not be a funny choice for the senate, but he did not steal the election.

Coleman has already announced his intention to fight the ruling at the state supreme court, as is his right, but he is unlikely to prevail. Pursuing this at the federal level, or even in the senate would take extraordinary justification that so far the Republicans have not shown.

Time to prepare for the end and learn the lessons of how not to fight a recount.