Tuesday, December 2, 2008

MN Recount Drags On

They're still counting ballots in Minnesota. For an interesting peek into the process, you can take the Star Tribune's vote-counting challenge: the paper presents pictures of 599 challenged ballots. (A free but rather annoying registration is required.)

I say interesting, actually it gets dull rather quickly. Unlike the ballots presented by Minnesota Public Radio, most of these ballots seemed crystal-clear votes for either Coleman or Franken -- at least, that's what I thought. There were a few toughies, but most of the challenges strike me as frivolous. So not as interesting as the MPR display I linked to previously. (And another defect is that the Star-Tribune's display doesn't show you how other viewers voted on each ballot, the way the MPR one does.)

Apparently Franken's team is going to withdraw a bunch of challenges ("more than dozens," they say). Good. There's no point wasting time on ballots that are obvious Coleman votes. Coleman's side should do the same. Many of the challenged ballots are clear-cut Franken votes.

The ballots challenges have obscured the issue of who's actually ahead. If one side challenges a vote that was previously counted for the other, that vote is removed from the total until the State Canvassing Board's ruling. So although the vote count currently puts Coleman ahead by even more than on election day, the total misleadingly misses many clear-cut Franken votes that Coleman has challenged. And some of the same is going on in the other direction. So the current margin is somewhat meaningless. There's just no knowing the outcome until the State Canvassing Board rules on the challenges. Sorry, but we'll just have to wait.

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