Senate trial: Every ballot has a story

On the second day of the Senate trial, Republican Sen. Norm ColemanâÄôs legal team told the story of six Minnesotans whose absentee ballots were not counted. The Coleman team also called Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann to testify as a custodian of records in an attempt to shed light on voting errors. The six voters each told their story about why they voted absentee and then voiced their resentment about their votes not being counted. Franken counsel Kevin Hamilton said the only way to know for sure why each absentee ballot was not counted would be to ask the election judge or county official that decided to reject each ballot. Each witness was called by the Republican Party within the past three weeks and informed that their votes were not counted. The first witness to testify was 75-year-old Gerald Anderson of Como Park. Anderson is blind and needed assistance from his son to get to the witness stand, which is also the reason he voted absentee. His wife âÄî who helped him fill out the ballot âÄî voted successfully. Anderson said he did not think things like this happened in America. âÄúMy vote is worth nothing, maybe IâÄôm worth nothing, I donâÄôt know,âÄù he said. âÄúI want it back; I am entitled to my vote.âÄù Several of the absentee voters, including Anderson, were not among the 654 ballots the Coleman campaign wanted examined in addition to those identified by local election officials. Hamilton noted this for the record before each witness was questioned and said it made their evidence irrelevant. The last absentee voter that was questioned was Douglas Thompson. Thompson said, though his girlfriend filled out his absentee application and signed it for him, he filled out and signed the actual ballot. Hamilton said the election judge would have no idea which one he signed and which one his girlfriend signed. When hearings concluded for the day, Coleman said it was heartwarming to hear Minnesotans who were âÄúso passionate about their right to vote.âÄù âÄúToday we saw the human side of this and thatâÄôs what this is all about,âÄù Coleman said. Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg said not all the ballots have been treated similarly. âÄúYou find that it is a system that is not really built for accuracy down to margins like this,âÄù Ginsberg said. Franken attorney Marc Elias said Coleman is continuing to âÄúdrag this process out.âÄù âÄúIt is a frustrating experience to try to chase this rabbit around the hole,âÄù Elias said. Coleman counsel Joe Friedberg questioned Gelbmann for almost two hours about different counties and scenarios in which a ballot could be rejected. Gelbmann said the election professionals in the 87 counties are the only people who know exactly why each ballot was rejected. âÄúEach one of these ballots has a story to be told,âÄù Gelbmann said.