As other see it: Illegal vote flap comes too late
It took Minnesota eight months following the 2008 election to seat a U.S. Senator. Al Franken was declared the winner after a long, contentious recount process overseen by a variety of state officials and judges. Franken won by a paper-thin majority that still rankles Republicans who now suggest that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a DFLer, somehow gamed the system.
Now they claim that Franken was elected by an army of convicted felons who voted illegally. Republican State Chairman Tony Sutton has sent a letter to all county attorneys in the state to investigate claims raised by a conservative advocacy group, Minnesota Majority, that as many as a thousand felons voted illegally.
Even Gov. Tim Pawlenty, in a Fox News Channel interview, on Wednesday suggested that any felons who voted probably voted for Franken and could have flipped the election to him. How he divined that, we'll never know.
The efforts by Republicans to repudiate Franken's election will not change the election at this point. Even if illegal voters are identified, there's know way to know for sure how they voted. No court would allow any vote totals to be adjusted at this point.
Asking county attorneys across the state to conduct investigations to see whether anyone might have voted illegally is a political stunt, and would be a waste of county attorney and district court resources that are in short supply, thanks to the parsimonious Pawlenty administration. The state's new Supreme Court Chief Justice, Lorie Skerven Gildea, was sworn in Tuesday and said her top priority will be to secure enough funding for the judicial system. Local courts don't need to be dragged into this political mix-up.