What Others Think: Seating FrankenThe push and shove between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman took a bizarre twist Wednesday, as Senate Democrats announced they now want to seat Mr. Franken as a U.S. senator while former Sen. Coleman’s lawsuit proceeds.
By: Bemidji Pioneer, Worthington Daily Globe
The push and shove between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman took a bizarre twist Wednesday, as Senate Democrats announced they now want to seat Mr. Franken as a U.S. senator while former Sen. Coleman’s lawsuit proceeds.
Not only is such a move an affront to the Minnesota election process, it’s illegal.
Mr. Franken tried to do so earlier this month, asking Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Gov. Tim Pawlenty to sign an election certificate for him after the State Canvassing Board certified Franken the winner by a margin of 225 votes among 2.9 million ballots. By state law, a seven-day period follows in which election contests can be filed. The Coleman campaign, within the appropriate window, did just that and now a trial before a three-judge panel is to start Monday.
Both Democrat Ritchie and Republican Pawlenty refused to sign an election certificate, saying state law doesn’t allow them to do so.
Actually, state Statute 204C, Section 40, declares that “no certificate of election shall be prepared or delivered until after the recount is completed. … No certificate of election shall be issued until seven days after the canvassing board has declared the result of the election. In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Wednesday that “we’re going to try to seat Al Franken.” Mr. Franken was in Washington, D.C., to attend inaugural events, hold a fundraiser and on Wednesday to pose for photos with Reid just off the Senate floor. Reid asserted that “there’s not a question in anyone’s mind” that there is any fraud or wrongdoing in the election.
But that’s not the issue. The three-judge panel won’t determine fraud or wrongdoing; “the only question to be decided by the court is which party to the contest received the highest number of votes legally cast at the election and is therefore entitled to receive the certificate of election,” states Statute 209, Section 12.
Senate Democrats, eager to increase their margin ever closer to that magic number of 60, seems willing to ignore Minnesota law if not break the law. Sen. Reid and Mr. Franken also spent time talking about when he could be seated provisionally and possible committee assignments once seated.
Mr. Franken at this point is ahead in the race, and could well be our next U.S. senator. When that time comes, he will have earned and deserve the respect that goes to that high office.
But until then, the law needs to be followed until a resolution is found which is legal and binding. To do anything less is a slap in the face of Minnesota voters and Minnesota’s untarnished election system.