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MN-Sen: You Be the Judge

by: DavidNYC

Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:00 PM EST


Minnesota Public Radio has some great images of contested ballots currently being contested in the MN-Sen recount. Here are a few:


Should it count for Al?


So the TV miniseries "V" was actually a documentary?


Franken's volunteer said the voter was "underlining Al."
That kind of grade-A bullshit makes me proud.

Anyhow, you can click through the link to register your opinion as to how each of these ballots should be counted (if at all). Pretty fascinating stuff.

DavidNYC :: MN-Sen: You Be the Judge
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Hopefully this case will..
not go to the US Supreme Court.  The last thing we need is the Supreme Court to rule on the intentions of voters.  I doubt they would want to get in the middle of this since the disaster that occurred in Florida a few years ago.

The first ballot is obviously for Franken, the second one appears to be for Franken, and the third one?  I don't have a clue.  

If I was a betting man, I'd believe that Franken will win the election.

40, male, Democrat, NC-04


Agreed...
The first two should count for Franken. The third one, however, is an overvote and unfortunately should be tossed out. Oh yes, and why is the second voter obsessed with "Lizard People"? I guess that's what happens when we let our education system lapse. ;-)

Yes, Virginia, there ARE progressives in Nevada!
24, gay male, Democrat, NV-03 (or 04?)


[ Parent ]
Honestly
I'd definitely give the first one to Franken, I'd maybe give the second one to Franken (since that Lizard People seems to be more of a prank than anything else) but I'd probably give Coleman the third one, it seems more to me that they accidentally filled Franken's name in but wanted Coleman (hence the cross-out).

I may be a partisan hack, but that doesn't mean I can't be a reasonably fair partisan hack ;)

Politics and Other Random Topics

24, Male, Democrat, NM-01, Chairman of the Atheist Caucus, and Majority Leader of the "Going to Hell" caucus!


[ Parent ]
I voted
1. Franken, 3. Reject, 4. Franken, 5. Franken, 6. Franken, 7. Coleman(gotta be fair), 8. Franken, 9. Barkley, 10. Barkley, 11. Reject-Probably the most dificult one since you can make the argument that it was underlined but also that it was being crossed out.

[ Parent ]
It's not as clear as the 'No' Ballot
I think there's a enough confusion as to the intent of that mark that you could make a case for overvote.  

28, Unenrolled, MA-08

[ Parent ]
Well
I think the case for overvote depends on how many people actually think that they can and/or should vote for more than one person.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
You'd be surprised
I've been a poll worker.  People overvote their ballots a lot. (Fortunately our machine rejects them and we give them a new ballot)  This may have been in part due to a poor ballot design, (some people thought that write in was a separate category), but others were simply voting for multiple candidates.  We have a lot of of voters with limited English skills in our precinct and Massachusetts ballots are only in English, but even among the fluent speakers there was still occasional overvoters.  

28, Unenrolled, MA-08

[ Parent ]
Spoiled ballots
For the August primary in Michigan, you can vote either all on the Democratic side or all on the Republican side, but you don't request separate ballots, it's all printed on the same piece of paper. So if you vote in the Democratic primary for Congress but cross over and vote in the Republican primary for sheriff, your ballot is spoiled.

A friend of mine was a poll worker for that election, and she and the other poll workers would explain these rules to every voter that came through-- vote in one column only, except for the nonpartisan races on the back. Sometimes they would repeat the instructions, just to make sure. And then they'd gather and make a prediction: will that person spoil his/her ballot?

It turns out, it's really easy to tell who's not paying close enough attention or who just doesn't understand. When each ballot was fed through the machine, they were right on their prediction every time.

And, for the record, in my town, pretty much everyone speaks English as the first language. Sometimes, people just aren't paying attention.


[ Parent ]
Precisely...
We can't really tell what the intent of this voter is. It may be to cross out Franken... Or it may be to underline Franken. Perhaps if the oval had not been filled for Franken, I'd give the vote to Coleman. But because that's not the case, it's too hard to tell whom the vote is for and thereby should be tossed aside.

Yes, Virginia, there ARE progressives in Nevada!
24, gay male, Democrat, NV-03 (or 04?)


[ Parent ]
No Supreme Court Case Here
I don't see that there's anything for the Supreme Court to rule on. The state is doing a uniform review of all contested ballots, so there's little chance of a viable Equal Protection claim. And the Court said in Bush v. Gore that the case wouldn't apply to any future cases anyway.

Just because some votes are disputed doesn't mean that there's a suit with a chance of succeeding, much less a federal one.


[ Parent ]
That's my thoughts too
I don't want the Supreme Court to touch this one with a ten foot pole.  

40, male, Democrat, NC-04

[ Parent ]
so
I just voted on all the ballots and it turns out that I voted with the majority on every single ballot except for the Lizard ballot (which I think should be thrown out). Mostly, the intent of the vote is pretty obvious, I think.

Oh jeez...
I can hardly wait for the "Marked the Oval for Franken But Wrote in Almighty God" ballots! Sorry, Lord, but you've got to understand that the voter's real intention was for Al! ;-)

Yes, Virginia, there ARE progressives in Nevada!
24, gay male, Democrat, NV-03 (or 04?)


Wowza
Reject
Allow
Franken
Franken
Franken
Franken
Reject
Reject
Franken
Barkley
Barkley
Reject

But I could have been persuaded another way on at least three of them. I hope the intimidation is kept to a minimum up there - it is more important to get the correct result than for our guy to win.


Scrap that
Reject
Allow
F
F
F
F
R
F
B
B
Reject

[ Parent ]
Here's mine
Franken
Allow
Reject
Franken
Franken
Franken
Reject
Franken
Barkley
Barkley
Reject

28, Unenrolled, MA-08

[ Parent ]
My Interpretation
1. Franken
2. Accept
3. Reject
4. Franken
5. Franken (I might have gone with an overvote, but "write in" was not bubbled in unlike the presidential race where "write in" was bubbled in and Lizard People was written in).
6. Franken
7. Coleman
8. Franken
9. Barkley
10. Barkley
11. Reject (this kinda looks like a scratch out, but I do like the Franken argument; perhaps I'd look at what the voter did on the rest of the ballot--all Republican? all Democrat? and assign it accordingly).

[ Parent ]
168 and shrinking...
Lizard People?

Yeah, I don't know either.
But I do admit to, while voting in school elections for positions where I don't know the people running or I sufficiently dislike all of them, voting for Shelf Bracket (the things used to hold up shelves in some of our dorms), Ninja Space Pirates (the golden ones in Ridley's lair in the game Super Metroid), and our school mascot.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Ehh...
Blah blah Franken Blah Blah Coleman Blah Blah Filling In Bubbles Blah Blah Recounts Blah Blah Lawyers Blah Blah Underlining Instead of Bubbling Blah Blah Blah...

blah blah blah RECOUNT!
BLAH BLAH BLAH NO BLAH BLAH BLAH UNDERLINE BLAH BLAH BLAH LIZARD PEOPLE BLAH BLAH BLAH.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
My judgements
1. The Arrow: Franken.  It doesn't look like an arrow, and the other random marks on the ballot show that the voter was likely sloppy.

2. The Thumbprint: McCain and Palin.  The voter clearly knew what he/she was doing (as shown by the neatly-filled bubble above), and clearly showed his/her intent.

3. Outside the lines: I'm not sure whether to count this as reject or Franken.  One reasonable possibility seems that the voter thought about voting for Franken but hadn't decided on it yet, and wanted to come back after fininshing the rest of the ballot--then forgot to come back.  Or it could just have been a mark pointing to the Senate race, since the mark doesn't even line up that well with Franken's bubble, and it isn't even a clear oval or rectangle.  I'm leaning toward reject.

4. The NO Ballot: Franken.  Assuming these were permanent marking pens (or at least that erasers were not provided), it's entirely possible to fill in a wrong bubble, and then try to figure out what to do about it.  In this case, the voter chose to fill in (presumably) his/her real choice, and write NO next to the incorrect choice.  Also note that the Coleman bubble is less filled than the Franken bubble.

5. Lizard People: Lizard People for President and VP, and Al Franken for Senate.  On this (most hilarious) ballot, it's clear that the voter understood that filling in a bubble is a vote, and the bubble for Lizard People (in the Senate category) is untouched.

6. The Checkmark: Franken, if the rest of the ballot has similar marks.  But if the rest of the ballot is correctly bubbled-in, but this Senate race has this strange marking, I'd lean toward reject.  I can see someone thinking of marking Franken and forgetting to come back to it later, but that'd likely only be a checkmark, not a checkmark and a circle around the rectangle.  (Sidenote: Here's another fingerprint.)

7. The Oops: Coleman.  The darker, fuller mark is on Coleman, and just as I argued for Franken on the NO Ballot, I'm arguing for Coleman on this one.

8. The Dot: Franken.  Same argument as before about mis-marking: Probably tried to fill the ballot quickly and then suddenly realized that Barkley wasn't his/her intended choice, and then fully filled in Franken's bubble.

9. The Eraser: I really don't know.  It depends on what those marks are.  If they are eraser marks, and there is a possibility of erasing without completely mangling the paper, such that that red oval is still visible, then I'd argue that this should be a Barkley vote.  On the other hand, if the ink used to mark the Barkley bubble is significantly different from the ink used to mark the rest of the bubbles, then that might be fraud, in which case it might be Franken.  So I can't really tell; I might lean toward reject.

10. The Confusion: Barkley.  Same argument as before about mis-marking.

11. The Underline: Either Coleman or reject.  No, I can't believe that that is an underline.  However, I also can't tell what the voter's intent is, though I think it's Coleman, because the voter might have filled Franken and then tried to cross it out and fill Coleman.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01


I mostly agree
The argument that Franken is making with the thumbprint is that the ballot should be rejected entirely since a thumbprint is identifying information. (which I think is BS, it's just a smudge)

28, Unenrolled, MA-08

[ Parent ]
Even if
Even if it is a good thumb print, I don't think it should disqualify the ballot.  The thumbprint doesn't identify the voter by itself.  You'd have to have access to the right data bases and equipment to identify the voter.

[ Parent ]
I would only reject one of the ballots
Another one is questionable, in my opinion, and I would want to know about relevant case law. The other nine show clear intent for Franken, Coleman or Barkley.

The Lizard People ballot should count. That person both wrote Lizard People and filled in the oval for the presidential ballot line. The person appears to have started to vote for Lizard People for Senate, then decided to vote for Franken instead. That's why the oval is not filled in next to Lizard People for senate. If the oval had not been filled in next to Lizard People for president, I think you could more persuasively argue that this is an overvote, but this voter clearly understands that you need to fill in the oval.


As evidenced in the ovals in this column
and the next one to the right.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
OMG, TEH OVALS!!!!
This gives me so many bad memories of the 2004 San Diego Mayoral Race! Remember all the write-ins for Democrat Donna Frye that didn't count because "the ovals weren't filled in"? That was so frustrating. I never really forgave the San Diego County Registrar of Voters after that horrifying experience.

Yes, Virginia, there ARE progressives in Nevada!
24, gay male, Democrat, NV-03 (or 04?)


[ Parent ]
Teh Ovals
    I am relieved (?) to find that I was not the only person who thought of the S.D. Mayoral race when the question of the ovals came up. In this case, it seems clear that the person voted for Lizard People for Prez/Veep because he or she filled in teh oval. Since he didn't fill in the oval for L.P. for Senator but instead filled in Al's oval, he decided to vote for Al. If he hadn't filled in the oval for Prez or Sen, then the intent would be a vote for our new reptilian overlords. I can't believe I am writing semi-seriously about Lizard People...

   In San Diego, the intent of the write-ins were obviously for Donna Frye, and she would have gotten those votes if S.D. were in Minnesota. Unfortunately CA law as interpreted by the vote counters in San Diego was less concerned about the intent of the voters.

52, male, disgruntled Democrat, CA-28


[ Parent ]
in my small Des Moines suburb
we had a similar miscarriage of justice in a city council election a few years ago. The top three candidates won seats. The fourth-place candidate was a write-in who finished 7 votes behind the third-place candidate.

But 22 people had written in his name without filling in the oval next to the write-in line. Their votes were not counted, so he lost. He did not challenge the decision. I thought he should have, because the voter intent was clear.


[ Parent ]
As an iside
Lizard people may be in reference to this guy.

http://www.amazon.com/Children...


And no
My screen name does not mean I believe that stuff! :)

[ Parent ]
Well
It sounds more logical than any "mainstream" religions I can think of.

[ Parent ]
those disputed ballots will be pretty easy for the canvassing board
latest i've hard is that the current deficit is 115 votes, which means that Franken has picked up 100 votes since the recount began!

also no one will beable to challenge the canvassing board successfully and this will not go to the supreme court.  as you all remember in 2000, the supreme court voted to stop the recount.  the recount is happening in an orderly way and no one is messing with it.


Makes me wonder...
why our colleague here is named Chad In FL.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Lemme See..
1) Accept for Franken.

2) Accept for McCain and voter forced to invest in soap.

3) Reject.

4) Accept for Franken.

5) Reject.  Voter gets fed to lizard people for being such a complete moron.

6) Accept for Franken.

7) Reject. Close call but too ambiguous.

8) Accept.

9) Accept for Charles, cough I mean Dean Barkley.

10) Accept for Dean Barkley.

11) Accept for Norm Coleman.

NY-13, Democrat. Blog @ http://infinitefunction.wordpr...


You know what is of real concern I think here
is that people are that stupid that they can't simply fill in a bubble.  There are directions right?  Why dont they have a sample ballot in each voting booth (with made up names and parties) to show how you fill one out.

(I recognize language barriers, which I wont delve into that topic as I'm not sure how I feel about it.)


That Was My Thought Too
I understand that not everyone of a certain age was brought up in the era of bubble sheets. But voters are, you know, free to ask for help. Some of the ballot design is less than ideal--lines for the candidate boxes could go all the way past the bubbles instead of ending at the candidates' names--but really, is it so hard to use an eraser?

As Winston Churchill supposedly said, there's no better argument against democracy than a five minute conversation with the average voter.


[ Parent ]
Our ballot here in my CT town (1 page)
had the candidates a box that took up most of the page, aligned against the lower-left corner of the page, and had two statewide questions above this candidates box, and five town-specific questions lining the right-side edge.  My mother missed the two at the top.

So yes, it is very easy to miss things and undervote, unfortunately.

Now if only everything could be lined up simply as if on an SAT scantron...

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01


[ Parent ]
well
that's problem, it all can be easily arranged like on a scantron, which is what we have in MN.

I simply do not understand why they make ballots so damn confusing and stupidly layed out.

Like when I read firebreathing liberal by wexler and he talked about the 2000 debacle, what the hell, how can there be ballots where you punch the box for the guy that isnt right across from it.  like, wtf?  

This is why we need NATIONAL ELECTION REFORM.  


[ Parent ]
As the noted corrupt party switcher also said...
Democracy is the best system bar all the others.

I won't repeat his youth quote, because it's only relevant as his nakedly mendacious argument for party switching (for the second time).


[ Parent ]
Huh?
Churchill switched parties?  I thought he was a lifelong conservative.

[ Parent ]
Started off and ended as a conservative
But in about 1904 he became a Liberal over an argument about free trade, and in about 1924 he switched back because the Liberals were electorally irrelevant.

This is probably what motivated his comment that "Show me a conservative young man, and I'll show you a man with no heart, show me a liberal old man, and I'll show you a man with no brains."

Although personally I prefer his comment when he switched parties the second time that "it takes a certain style to rat twice, I think".

All quotes are paraphrases.


[ Parent ]
I was an election judge
and there are directions. Albeit, our directions were outside the voting booth. The problem with leaving it in the booth is that people can mess with it. We also specifically instructed people who are new voters on voting procedures.  

[ Parent ]
Reject Reject Reject
My 2 cents:
Reject
McCain
Reject
Franken
Reject
Franken
Reject
Franken
Barkley
Barkley
Reject

My thinking
I would rule:

1) "The Autograph" Reject
2) "The pencil" Franken. I filled my ballot out with two different pens (same color though) Cant imagen its hard to think maybe someone lost their pen for a second and used something else.
3) "The X Factor" Reject, as long as the voter didnt do the same thing in other races.
4) "The Bachmann" Reject. Subd. 4. of the MN law states that a write in doesnt have to have an X next to the write in name to count, so this is a double vote.
Day 1 ballot 1) "The Arrow" Coleman.
Day 1 ballot 2) "Thumbprint" Accept it. The case against it is really silly
(Day 1 ballot 3) "Outside the lines" Franken. Pretty clear I think
Day 1 Ballot 4) "No ballot" Franken. Writting a big NO next to Coleman is pretty telling lol.
Day 1 Ballot 5) "Lizzard people" Reject. Same case with the Bachmann ballot.
Day 1 Ballot 6) "The checkmark" Franken. Voter intent pretty clear IMO
Day 1 Ballot 7) "The oops" Reject. Two votes, though I have a feeling the voters intended to vote for Coleman.
Day 1 Ballot 8) "The Dot" Reject. See above but replace Coleman with Franken.
Day 1 Ballot 9) "The eraser" Barkley. The Franken Representive is being downright unethically with his/her backwards argument.
Day 1 ballot 10) "The confusion" Reject, see ballot 7 and 8 above
Day 1 ballot 11) "The "underline"" Probably reject.
 

A cat can have kittens in an oven but that doesn't make them biscuits.


[ Parent ]
Ooh.
I wasn't aware they now had day 2 stuff up.  Thanks!

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
LIZARD PEOPLE FOR SENATE!
The voters have spoken! They want a real compromise choice. But not any David Eick-induced, no, they don't want Dean Barkley.

They want LIZARD PEOPLE! ALL HAIL OUR REPTILIAN OVERORDS!


Say what?
"Franken's volunteer said the voter was "underlining Al."
That kind of grade-A bullshit makes me proud."

You have got to be kidding I hope. It shouldnt make you proud, but ashamed of someone trying to steal a vote. Not cool.

A cat can have kittens in an oven but that doesn't make them biscuits.


Like you,
I hope (and personally believe) that that was sarcastic.

Yes, that is total bull.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01


[ Parent ]
Well
I am hoping he was meaning to be somewhat sracastic. Even he admitted it shouldnt be considered a vote for Franken.

A cat can have kittens in an oven but that doesn't make them biscuits.

[ Parent ]
Day 2 ballots
The Autograph: While I was introduced to this ballot through the title "The Autograph", upon looking further at it I can't say I can reasonably distinguish that from a scribble.  (My high school Latin teacher signed his name even more like a scribble, for that matter.)  Therefore, I'd count this for Coleman.

The Pencil: Franken.  The pencil mark is valid, especially since the rest of the ballot was filled in pencil--not just the vote for Senator in pencil and everything else up and down in pen.

The X Factor: I'd call this one for Coleman.  However, see note 1 below.

The Bachmen: I'd call this one for Coleman.  I presume the person was likely confused at the lack of Michelle Bachmann after seeing or hearing Bachmann advertisements.  Note that the ballot is from MN-04, represented by Betty McCollum.  Since MN-06 borders MN-04, seeing advertising from the wrong district is totally reasonable (CT-01 got 02, 04, and 05 advertising).  However, there's clearly a vote for Coleman.  See note 2 below for discussion on the write-in issue.

1. What I'm just wondering about is, though, if a person incorrectly fills a ballot and is aware of it, can he/she get a new blank ballot to work with?  And would a voter be aware of that?

2. I've heard that Minnesota law says that a ballot should be counted if it shows voter intent, yet I've also heard that a ballot is invalid if there is an overvote and that writing in a write-in candidate counts as a vote for the write-in candidate even if the bubble isn't filled.  Still, I feel that the case for voter intent should supersede these other laws, and thus I count both this "Bach men" ballot and the now-infamous "Lizard People" ballot.

As for entertainment...I present to you...the Bach men Cheetahmen.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01


The X factor...
See, the telling sign is that you can see the voter bubbled in the "Yes" in the next column without any "X" mark.  That leads me to think the X for Coleman was intended to nullify the Coleman mark.

But the best way to know is to look at the rest of the ballot.  If everything else is clearly marked with simply a properly filled-in bubble, and only Coleman's has the "X" over it, then it becomes much more clear that there was intent to nullify the vote.


[ Parent ]
Well, I think the key here would be to look up
and see if the voter marked X in the bubble for President/VP as well.  Because if that's the case, they probably started putting X's then realized they had to fill in the bubble, and that would count it for Coleman.  But if the Pres/VP bubble was filled without an X, then they probably meant to cross it out, which would count it as a no-vote.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]

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