Just this afternoon, District Court Judges Elizabeth A. Hayden, Kurt J. Marben and Denise D. Reilly ordered the delivery of the following 400 ballots/applications/envelopes to the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State by noon the 6th of April, 2009:
“The absentee ballot return envelopes for the individuals identified in Exhibit A [394 beginning on page 20 of the Order], the absentee return ballots, absentee ballot applications and federal postcard applications for the individuals identified in Exhibit B [five listed on page 30 of the Order], and the original voter registration application and absentee ballot return envelope for the individual identified in Exhibit C [one on page 31 of the Order].”
“Legally cast ballots shall be opened, sorted and counted by the Office of the Secretary of State in open court. Opening, sorting and counting shall proceed using the same methods as described in the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Order of December 24, 2008. Upon opening, sorting and counting, the ballots shall be completely and finally separated from the envelopes in accordance with Minnesota’s policy of ballot secrecy. The totals from the opening, sorting and counting shall be included in the results of the 2008 United States Senate election reported by the Minnesota Secretary of State.”
The Order further states that “Any other relief not specifically ordered herein is denied,” ostensibly referring to the ballots Coleman’s attorneys claimed were lost or double-counted. However, Franken’s attorney Marc Elias said there could be additional orders forthcoming.
If the 400 ballots reconfirm that Al Franken received the most votes in this election, it is clear that Coleman’s attorneys will not concede. What is unclear is how far they might be allowed to take their arguments, how long the people of Minnesota will remain underrepresented in the US Senate and how long this race will be used to keep a lawfully elected fillibuster-proof majority out of the US Senate. In a recent radio interview, Coleman’s lead attorney Joe Friedberg told Ron Rosenbaum, “We’ve been trying this case with the appeal record in mind,” and “the more input lawyers can have, the better I like it. It’s called the full employment act for lawyers.”
An appeal to the MN Supreme Court by either side could be ruled on relatively quickly, but Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has already begun appealing for Coleman on the federal level. Should Franken remain the winner after the 400 ballots and envelopes are counted next week, and Coleman fails to impress the MN Supreme Court, Cornyn said Coleman should keep fighting “for years.” Although Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-NY) said that the case will be decided in Minnesota state courts, Cornyn has threatened “World War III” if Franken is seated.