More on the inconsistent rulings by the Minnesota Canvassing Board
After examining some of the ballots, I’m concerned. Although voter intent seems clear in a large majority of the ballots, in a number of instances the board’s judgments seem inconsistent in a way that favors Franken.
Inspect, for example, sample ballots posted on the Web site of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. In Minnesota, most ballots require voters to make their choices by filling in circles, like the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The darkened circles are then scanned by a counting machine.
One sample ballot shows a filled-in circle for John McCain and Sarah Palin, indicating the voter’s intent to select the Republican candidates. In the Senate race, the circle next to Norm Coleman’s names is filled in, but there is a faint X through it. This might suggest that the voter intended to cross out, or negate, the vote cast for Coleman. Or it might indicate that the voter made an extra scribble when filling in the circle. That is why the ballot was disputed. In this case, the panel ruled that the vote wasn’t for Coleman because the X indicates intent to cancel the darkened circle.
This decision is defensible. If there is an X there, then perhaps the voter didn’t intend to vote for Coleman.
Consider the next ballot, though, which is almost identical except for two changes. First, the filled-in circle that is crossed out is a potential vote for Franken. Second, the X is much larger and more obvious. And what did the canvassing board decide? It is a vote for Franken.
Calling that ballot a vote for Franken is possible in isolation. But taken together, the two decisions are at odds.
This isn’t, it is important to note, evidence of wrongdoing by the board. Any group of individuals making thousands of decisions is bound to make some that are contradictory in retrospect. But at the very least, the appearances are troubling, and the decisions appear by my reading of the ballots to favor Franken. . . . .
Reminder of what I was writing last week.