If he is unable to win at the ballot box, comedian-turned-politician Al Franken may turn to the courts to gain a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Recent rulings by Minnesota’s canvassing board have put Franken in the hole in his bid to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman.
News reports say Franken is "eyeing his options" after disputed absentee ballots were thrown out and those options might include taking the matter to court.
In other words, another election decided not by the courts but by men and women who got their jobs through election or political appointment.
Minnesota’s U.S. Senate showdown is veering down a path toward the courts and possibly the Senate itself after a panel’s ruling on rejected absentee ballots dealt a blow to Democrat Al Franken’s chances.
For the first time, his campaign on Wednesday openly discussed mounting challenges after the hand recount involving Franken and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman concludes. That includes the possibility of drawing the Senate into the fracas.
The state Canvassing Board denied Franken’s request to factor absentee ballots rejected by poll workers into the recount. He sought to overturn the exclusions in cases where ballots were invalidated over signature problems or other voter errors. Coleman’s campaign maintained the board lacked power to revisit those ballots.
Franken entered the recount trailing Coleman by 215 votes out of 2.9 million ballots. As of Wednesday night, Coleman was up 292 votes, including results from Nov. 4 and recounted ones.
All told, 86 percent of the ballots have been recounted. However, about 4,740 ballots have been challenged by the two campaigns that could fall to the canvassing board to rule on.
The ruling wasn’t a complete victory for Coleman. The board left open the possibility of examining ballots that were set aside for errors outside of the voter’s control.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie estimated that 12,000 absentee ballots were rejected for various reasons — some legitimate, some not. That represents between 4 percent and 5 percent of all the absentee ballots cast.
Franken’s campaign had made the push to factor in rejected absentee ballots key to its recount strategy, even going to court to force county officials to turn over data on voters whose ballots didn’t count.