Court agrees to review 11,000 ballots

The Senate trial resumed Wednesday morning with a key decision that set the tone for Democrat Al FrankenâÄôs counselâÄôs court strategy. The three-judge panel ruled admissible Republican Norm ColemanâÄôs previous stances on rejected absentee ballots and duplicate ballots. In light of the ruling, during the cross-examination of deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann, who has been on the stand since Tuesday afternoon, FrankenâÄôs counsel reviewed correspondence that showed ColemanâÄôs history of varying stances. Also Wednesday, ColemanâÄôs attorneys settled on 11,000 rejected absentee ballots to subpoena for court review, a number that had fluctuated from about 5,000 to about 12,000 during the first two days of the trial. Franken attorney Marc Elias condemned his opponentsâÄô vacillation and said ColemanâÄôs shifts in opinion are unsound. âÄúAfter the race is over, itâÄôs too late to raise these things,âÄù he said at an out-of-court press briefing. âÄúItâÄôs legally untenable.âÄù Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg continued to emphasize to the court that some of the rejected ballots were similar to accepted ballots. The variation in individual election judgesâÄô acceptance standards caused some absentee ballots to be wrongly rejected, he said. Additionally, Friedberg criticized the December state Supreme Court ruling, which ordered election officials to submit absentee ballots that officials believed were wrongfully rejected to each campaign. From there, both campaigns had to agree a ballot should be counted. If one campaign decided a ballot should be counted, but the other didnâÄôt, then the ballot wasnâÄôt counted. This process, Friedberg said, allowed some ballots that trained election officials thought to be wrongly rejected to go uncounted, possibly disenfranchising some voters.

WhatâÄôs next

Court will convene Thursday at 9 a.m. with Gelbmann still on the stand in his cross-examination. HeâÄôll be questioned for about 25 more minutes, Franken attorney David Lillehaug said. The court will continue waiting for the subpoenaed absentee ballots from the stateâÄôs 87 counties. For the rest of the week, Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg said his team will question election officials and voters.