Minnesota’s Challenged Senate Ballots: You Judge

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By Albert N. Milliron, Editor, Politisite.com, Iron Mill Interactive Media, Inc

Want to be part of the process to determine the winner in Minnesota’s Senate election?  Here is your opportunity to be part of what a recount is like.  The Minneapolis paper the Star-Tribune has posted challenged ballots in the U.S. Senate race on a special website. Readers are asked to look at each ballot and make a determination pf Voter intent.  Minnesota law states that a ballot must be counted if it is possible to determine intent even of the voter did not follow the instructions correctly.  Votes are NOT counted if more then one candidate’s bubble is marked.  There are exceptions, if a voter makes an attempt to strike one of candidates following a a mistake, canvassing official are required to count the ballot as the voter had intended.  A ballot will not be counted if there is any attempt to provide identification of who is casting the vote.

About the Senate result projections based on ballot challenges

Projected vote totals are calculated based on the results of the ballots you’ve reviewed in the Ballot Challenge. The more challenged ballots you review, the more accurate the projections will become. For challenged ballots that you do not review, the program will automatically assign “votes” to Coleman or Franken based on the percentage of ballots you selected for each candidate.  For example, if your review found that 60 percent of the ballots should have gone to Coleman and 40 percent to Franken, the program will assign 60 percent of your unreviewed ballots to Coleman and 40 percent to Franken.  The program will start assigning unreviewed ballots to the candidates after you decide 50 ballots. The program will also divide any challenges for which we don’t have ballot images yet.

Senate recount: Ballot markings bewilder State Canvassing Board

State Canvassing Board Thursday reviewed a Senate ballot that may have been a vote for Al Franken – except that the voter also added “Lizard People” as a write-in candidate.

The Bemidji voter’s vote did not count in the tight U.S. Senate race that drew even tighter Thursday when Sen. Norm Coleman’s lead was nearly erased

The writer went to the Star-Tribune’s special website and signed up tp take the Ballot Challenge.  The paper has uploaded nearly all of the challenged ballots and asked readers to determine voter intent on each ballot.  Many of the ballots look like there should be no issue at all, so why would they be challenged?  To find out you must click on the ballot for a full ballot view and read why the vote was challenged.  Often you will find that a stray mark occurred or someone had their pen in another candidates box and and decided to vote for another.  In doing so they left a small line or dot in the box.  Both candidates challenged these type of ballots.  It appears easy to determine these.

The stray marks were considered , one would wonder if the voter was cold (It is Minnesota), or if the voter were elderly, or had vision issues.  Since the law deals with intent even if the rules may have been violated by misunderstanding or other reasons, the judge has to come to a conclusion on who, that one voter, chose for the Senate seat.

Their are other issues.  Many ballots also seem to have no issue as well.  One may think that the challenge was political or to cause delays in the process, not so.  Again it is important to do a full ballot search and look at the reason the candidate challenged the vote.  Some of the ballots were damaged and the voter voted again.  Other times the voter voted twice.  Some voters may have forgotten they voted absentee or wished to change their vote, so they just went to the polls again and voted.  Other times there seemed to be no real reason why the candidate challenged the vote.

The writer evaluated 100 ballots for this article.  Here are the results based on my review.

The Ballot Challenge   You have voted on 100 ballots.

Resolved challenges Remaining challenges Projected vote totals *
Coleman Franken Other/no one   Coleman Franken Margin Error
Current recount totals 319 758 248 5,432 1,209,254 1,209,505 Franken by 251
Your choices 41 49 10 5,332 1,211,663 1,212,007 Franken by 344 ±582
Everyone 2980 3246 510 0 1,211,915 1,211,993 Franken by 78


The writers data appears in the second row.  Based upon 100 ballots, 41 were for Colman, 49 Franken, and 10 were for other candidates or were thrown out based upon the Minnesota law.  Based on the writers use of this instrument the Star-Tribune determined that Frankin will win by 344 with a the margin of error of  +/- 582 votes.  It would take nealry 1000 reviews to get a margin of error that would be determinmative of the actual winner.  

Want to be a cannvassing ballot judge? Take the challenge here

Other NowPublic Minnesota Senate Race Stories:

  1. “Lizard People” Invade MN Senate Recount
  2. UP DATE…Absentee ballots spark a new battle
  3. Al Shows “Franken Sense” in Minnesota Senate Race
  4. Frankin Senate race not so Funny, 100 Ballots Still up in the Air
  5. Al Franken leads Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race
  6. Mr. Franken Goes to Washington?

Other Related Stories:

  1. Hot Air » Blog Archive » Franken projects: I’ll win by 35-50 votes
  2. Franken will keep lead and become senator-elect, his attorney says
  3. Franken Stealing A Senate Seat
  4. At Least for Now, Franken Pulls Ahead

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