The Middle of the End of the Beginning of the Start of the End of the Middle

normclue.pngAl Franken has won his race for the U.S. Senate. Again.

In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel hearing the challenge of former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., held that Franken had won by the most basic of metrics: he won more votes. Moreover, the court eviscerated Coleman’s case, taking apart the arguments that his attorneys have made on his behalf.

From duplicate ballots, of which the court said they heard no testimony, to the voter registration system, which the court called “accurate and reliable,” Coleman’s case was shot down across the board. His most cherished argument, that there were horrible equal protection violations created when some counties might have counted absentee ballots improperly, was brusquely brushed aside:

Contestants [Coleman’s attorneys] have not met their burden of proof….Specifically, Contestants have not shown discrimination, arbitrary treatment, ill-will or malfeasance on the part of Minnesota election officials, or that errors or irregularities affected the outcome of the race.

And that, of course, is the point to all of this. Coleman has been very quick to note every minor flub anywhere along the line, and of course, there were some — this was an election run by humans, and humans are imperfect. But Coleman’s camp has never shown actual evidence of enough errors to affect the outcome. All they’ve ever shown is that errors might have happened, and that might have affected the election.

Well, they might have. And I might be the tooth fairy, but if I want the sweet tooth fairy parking, or Norm Coleman wants to return to the Senate, we have to actually show evidence backing it up. And Coleman’s campaign never did this, because, ultimately, they don’t have evidence. They have the desire not to have Al Franken win, and that’s understandable — but they don’t have enough evidence to prevent it.

One might think that Coleman would take the hint from the court — which, incidentally, pinned the costs of the proceedings on him — and quit. But he won’t, of course:

Statement from Ben Ginsberg, legal spokesman for the Coleman for Senate campaign:

“More than 4,400 Minnesotans remain wrongly disenfranchised by this court’s order. The court’s ruling tonight is consistent with how they’ve ruled throughout this case but inconsistent with the Minnesota tradition of enfranchising voters. This order ignores the reality of what happened in the counties and cities on Election Day in terms of counting the votes. By its own terms, the court has included votes it has found to be ‘illegal’ in the contest to remain included in the final counts from Election Day, and equal protection and due process concerns have been ignored. For these reasons, we must appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court so that no voter is left behind.”

Beautiful, except for the fact that Coleman’s attorneys had every opportunity to present evidence of “what was happening,” and failed to. Which is understandable; such evidence simply didn’t exist.

At any rate, we’re nearing the end. Coleman will appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, where it will be viciously slammed to the turf, hopefully by Justice Page. After that happens, the court will issue a ruling giving Franken the election certificate that the trial court ruled he is entitled to (and, one suspects, that Franken’s attorneys will shortly be petitioning for).

After that…well, Norm is going to have a decision to make. Gov. Timmy and the Senate Republicans have shown a willingness to disenfranchise Minnesota voters forever. But Minnesota voters aren’t going to accept that cheerfully. We’ve indulged Norm thus far, but our patience has pretty much worn out. I think he gets one more appeal, and then he will graciously concede, for the good of the state. But Norm has disappointed me many times before; I’ve no doubt he can do it again. For now, I’ll simply remind Norm of something a far better senator than he once said, a statement quoted by Al Franken tonight: Politics isn’t about winning. It’s about improving people’s lives. Maybe that’s why Norm’s only statewide victory was over a dead man — and why he’s lost to a comedian and a wrestler. Because Minnesotans agree with Paul — and Norm doesn’t.

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