Feature

Recounting Al Franken's votes

Why the comic has gained on GOP Sen. Norm Coleman since election day

There's something funny going on in Minnesota, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Comedian Al Franken is mysteriously gaining ground in his too-close-to-call race against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. Lost ballots are suddenly turning up, "in some cases under strange circumstances," and it seems like the Democrats are trying to add "to their jackpot by stealing a Senate seat" for this left-wing joker.

One thing is particularly troubling as a recount looms, said Katherine Kerstein in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, and the trickle of votes moves "inexorably in Franken's direction." Fairness requires that the recount be conducted in a "nonpartisan fashion," yet Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie came to office with the help of Democratic activists, who launched a nationwide effort to put Democrats into jobs like his so they "could wield influence in precisely the sort of hair's breadth race we have here."

"If you think all of this is starting to sound a bit like Florida in 2000," said Steve Benen in The Washington Monthly online, "we're on the same page." The Republicans are attacking the official in charge, Ritchie, and accusing him of associating with ACORN and "(cue the scary music)" MoveOn.org so they can either influence the outcome or, if that fails, discredit the process in advance.

Franken will come out on top, either way, said Scott Rafferty in AlterNet, and not from cheating. Hand counting of improperly marked ballots—more common in low-education, low-income areas that trend Democratic—should be more than enough for Franken to close the 200-vote gap. And "Minnesota only uses paper ballots, no punch cards and no touch screen," so there will be a paper trail that should put the claims of fraud to rest.

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