Hello, I’m Matthew Wintergarden, and I write for the Degausser, a new political blog that aims to add to the “538” wing of the Progressive Project. I was recently given the honor of being asked to post my diary regarding the Challenged Ballots in the Minnesota Senate Race.
A month ago, my colleague Allan Springvale spoke of the Coleman-Franken race as the most competitive in the country.
Who was ahead before the recount began?
Norm Coleman led Al Franken by 215 before the first day of the recount. After all the oddities of this race, the fact that exactly 50,000 voters skipped the Senate race is not a surprise. Of course, we have no idea how many Senate voters decided to skip the Presidential race (or if anyone skipped both races).
The twin towers of MN Blue and the MN Progressive Project have offered a sound resource for keeping up with the recounts. As Paul Westerberg (likely did not) say, “It’s all over but the counting.” The counting of challenged ballots, that is…
So what determines where a challenged ballot will fall? How do we determine voter intent? And what makes our electoral method far superior to the Florida 2000 faceplant of democracy’s failure?
A guide follows:
A primer on the rules for determination of Voter Intent
These votes would all be counted for Jack Shepard, Coleman’s primary opponent:
1. The Shaq Free-throw ………………..2. Circle gets the Square
3. “Shoeless Joe’s signature”………………4. The Oval Office
5. When the voter employs multiple methods of marking their vote, but only chooses one candidate for office, the mark is counted as a vote:
6 and 7. If a voter makes it fairly obvious that they decided to change their vote, such as an erasure or cross-out, then the remaining non-altered vote is counted. In this example, “Darryl Stanton”, whomever the Sam Hill that is, would receive these votes).
8. This also stands for write-ins – Robert “Build a 50-foot wall, I’ll find you a 51-foot ladder” Fitzgerald would receive this vote (he’s right, by the way).
Another note – a ballot cannot be rejected if it is slightly soiled or defaced. So if some fool spilled bourbon, or even worse, vomited upon his absentee ballot, it will still be counted. Dude, I know it helps deal with the disappointment of Aerosmith’s post-1970s output, but it’s a bad idea to do a shot for each unopposed judicial candidate.
Here’s what to do if you DON’T want your vote counted:
1. Marking multiple candidates. This also goes for filling the bubble for one candidate, and placing an “X” next to another candidate for the same office. Electoral Bigamy has been disallowed since the Second Manifesto in 1904.
2. Placing a name, initial, or any other identification mark upon the ballot. Voting is like Pictionary – you can illustrate, but the Phoenician alphabet is verboten (I am not aware of any rules against using Cyrillic or Kanji).
Now that you are armed with that knowledge, would you be able to determine the voter intent from these actual 2008 Senate ballots? Than Tibbetts of Minnesota Public Radio has asked us to make the call, and feel free to do so in the comments:
1. “I cut the head off the Devil and I throw it at you”
Some claim that what we see is an arrow pointing to Coleman. I see a dripping pen targeted at Franken, with a speck in Niemackl and a coincidental sideways Chevron logo for Coleman, an obvious allusion to his oil company pandering.
2. The Horsehead Nebula
This matches the reasoning above in Intent #8 on the yes side. John McCain, dusting himself off after Matt Taibbi’s latest, would be awarded this vote.
3. “And heeere’s the pitch from Rick Vaughn….Juuuuuust a bit outside!”
Franken would have areally difficult time claiming this vote. Hell, it almost looks like our voter took the whole Pictionary Corollary a bit too seriously – did the card say “Lizard Head” or “Hand Shadow”?
4. The House of Yes
Here’s the dilemma – do we claim that this is an example of Intent Rule 6 and 7, where they are indicating that their first mark was not their preferred vote, or is it an example of No #2, where identification marks, such as initials, were placed upon the ballot, disqualifying the entire entity? The vote will be decided by the interpretation of the marks around Coleman’s bubble.
5. “You know Joel, every now and then, you just got to say WTF”?
After Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey checked into the Big House, Minnesota’s vast untapped Vampyre Vote was left hanging, like from a cave or something. I’m afraid Al was crossed out for a write-in here – serious Risky Business. And yes, I am just as amazed as you are that this person actually spelled both words correctly. Although this pales compared to Tom DeLay’s 2006 ballot replacement.
Somewhere in our fair state, there is some guy claiming that he was the “Lizard People” voter, and perhaps its being used for nefarious purposes. I would bet dollars to donuts that this douche-nozzle has already tried this line on half the cougars at his interstate-exit Applebee’s.
6. Dirty Dancing
Sometimes you have to wonder if someone did this just to be difficult? There are two marks in the neighborhood of Franken, but do they fall within the Intent #5? Each black box corresponds with a name on the list. This may be the hardest of them all.
7. Vote early and often
This meets No Rule #1, so it would get thrown out. Unless the Franken mark can be proven to be some errant ink, rather than a attempt at a vote. Perhaps if all other Repubs were chosen in other offices, you could give it to Norm.
What scares me the most is that some poor voter accidentally severed their finger, and was forced to leave it on the ballot. Ouch!
8. The Dippin’ Dots – Electoral Style of the Future
This one’s pretty obvious – an errant dot dropped in the Barkley oval, corrected by some furious pro-Franken bubble-darkening. Of course, it would help if the voter wasn’t provided a blurry ballot.
And another thing – Dippin’ Dots has been advertising itself as “Ice Cream of the Future” for almost two decades. when does it become “Ice Cream of the Present”?
9. You’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, and dog-gone it, people do not like you
A stunning rebuke of your daily affirmation, Al.
Some sadist really wanted it to hurt just THAT MUCH MORE!
10. Political Bigamy, Hefner-style
While it is most likely a vote for Dean Barkley, this drunkard thought about Coleman, but got distracted by the totally rad possibility of turning “FRANKEN” into the logo for…
11. Jimmy Tango says “Ride the Snake!”
Clearly a hissing at Franken – Coleman gets this one. But why does it look more like a tadpole than a cross-out? Is anyone here a marine biologist?