Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Franken v. Coleman: It's a tie

The Minnesota recount saga continues. The Minnesota Commission in charge of the recount has found that Franken is ahead by 255 votes, but inconsistencies in counting and ballot acceptance/rejection abound. Norm Coleman has decided to sue, preventing Al Franken from receiving the proper certification from the Secretary of State, meaning he cannot be seated by the Senate. So, at the dawn of the 111th Congress, there are only 99 Senators and 1 vacant seat.

There has been talk of the Senate seating Franken and of Republicans filibustering to prevent this. I have a much more simple solution: the Senate can declare the seat vacant, and force another election.

Let's face it: this election is damn close. It is so close we may not really know who really won. For all intents and purposes, it's a tie. Frankly, whoever wins will have very little "mandate" or flexibility to accomplish much anyway. So why not simply do it over?

There is precedent for this. In 1974, the Democratic candidate Durkin led by a slim margin on election night but the election commission recounted and certified the Republican Wyman the winner by 2 votes. The Democratic majority ended up declaring the seat vacant to protests from the Republicans, but this was probably the smartest and best move. Durkin ended up winning the special election, and was defeated in Republican landslide in 1980.

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