Earth Day may have been a few days ago, but Carver County Republican Secretary Vince Beaudette shows us his fidelity to Mother Earth in this week’s Chaska Herald by recycling long-since discredited talking points in relation to the 2008 U.S. Senate election between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. Let’s look at a couple of the gems in Beaudette’s letter:
The Minneapolis director of elections said 32 absentee ballots were found in an election worker’s car a day or two after the election, and all votes happened to go to Al Franken.
This is one of the long-lasting myths of the 2008 election, but it’s just not true. Here’s a summary of what happened with those 32 ballots gleaned from accounts in MinnPost and the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
- Minnesota law requires absentee ballots to counted at the precinct place the voter would have normally voted at if they were able to vote in-person on Election Day.
- Absentee ballots for Minneapolis are returned not to city officials, but county officials. On Election Night, a batch of overseas ballots came in late, and were only delivered from Hennepin County officials to Minneapolis officials at 7 p.m., one hour before the polls closed.
- Minneapolis had 13 certified precinct support judges who were responsible for delivering the absentee ballots to the 131 individual precinct locations in the city.
- Because of the late arrival of this last batch of absentee ballots, 28 ballots were not able to be delivered to the precincts before the polls had closed and the vote-counting process had began. No additional absentee ballots can be introduced at the precinct once that has happened.
- Those 28 ballots, as well as four absentee ballots that were erroneously not opened and counted at the precinct level that night were returned to City Hall that evening, where they were securely stored until they could be counted in the presence of a judge and attorneys from both the Franken and Coleman campaigns. Ballots were never found or stored in cars for days, as Beaudette alleges.
- Of the 32 votes, 17 went to Franken and 8 to Coleman. The other seven ballots were for third-party candidates or had no vote for the Senate race at all.
Here’s another classic:
Precincts in Two Harbors and Partridge Township sent Al Franken a net gain of another 350 votes, claiming miscounts, in the days immediately following the election.
Miscounts in elections are actually fairly common. In 2006, an election won by Amy Klobuchar by a double-digit margin, her vote total changed by over 2,000 votes from the initial canvass to the final results.
Here’s an example of how this occurs, from the Pioneer Press story:
Like many stories that emerged during the recount, the Pine County error became something nefarious through the prism of the campaign and the national media. But it has an innocent explanation, one that the secretary of state’s office spelled out for callers.
Similar to Buhl, Pine County results must be written down, read over the phone and then typed in. Terry Lovgren, a county worker of 23 years, thinks she made the error.
Lovgren’s Election Day was fairly typical — hectic and stressful. She started around 8 a.m. and spent much of the day driving late-arriving absentee ballots to polling places in the farthest reaches of the county.
In the evening, she and Auditor Cathy Clemmer manned a computer, typing in the results from handwritten forms from 47 precincts that were piling up on her desk.
“We just start ripping and entering,” Lovgren said.
In rural Partridge Township, Coleman got 143 votes, edging out Franken’s 129 votes. That’s what the machine tape read at the end of the night and what was written on a ledger that was hand-delivered to the county offices in Pine City.
But that’s not what was typed into the county’s computer and transmitted to the state. Those figures showed Franken with a mere 29 votes.
The numbers sat there until the county canvass the Thursday after the election. Lovgren was taking notes while someone read results.
“Nope, that’s wrong,” someone piped up when Partridge Township was read.
“I felt ill,” Lovgren said. “I was sick that I had made that mistake.”
Nothing nefarious here, just a human mistake that was caught and corrected by the processes in place already. In a close election, such mistakes are magnified and blown out of proportion by partisans looking to score political points.
The worst part about these consistent attempts by Beaudette (and others) to recycle these stories is that they know by now that these stories are false. Yet they keep repeating them.
The question is: why do Beaudette and those of his ilk feel they can’t make the case for voter ID legislation based on the facts? Why do they have to keep repeating these lies?