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Senator Franken
June 30, 2009 11:43 AM   Subscribe

The verdict is in. Absent U.S. Supreme Court appeals, meet Senator Franken. (Decision)
posted by Muddler (152 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
> Absent U.S. Supreme Court appeals...

You're an optimist, aren't you?
posted by ardgedee at 11:44 AM on June 30, 2009 [14 favorites]


Are those Madoff specs he's wearing?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:47 AM on June 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I'd say this might still be a bit premature.
posted by graventy at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2009


Now my line of Senator-themed German beer mugs is totally going to take off!
posted by GuyZero at 11:48 AM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


They might take it to the Supremes? Really? I guess Big Insurance has everything to gain by delaying even the watered down piece of crap healthcare is probably going to be.
posted by DU at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2009


Absent Norm Franken having a tiny spec of class, meet the US Supreme Court.
posted by uaudio at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggone it... people like him!
posted by Eideteker at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


I believe we're entering what I like to call the Al Franken Decade.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


^^ NORM COLEMAN. Grr.
posted by uaudio at 11:49 AM on June 30, 2009


Pawlenty said he would sign the certificate validating Franken if ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Court's decision doesn't direct him to sign it, however. So this may not be over yet.
posted by Happydaz at 11:50 AM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Love the comments:

No Better Than Iran
Iran didn't count all of the votes either.


I guess Hoekstra's been following this event closely.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yay?
posted by slogger at 11:52 AM on June 30, 2009


He will be seated next week, SCOTUS appeal or not.

Now of course the Dems will have no "the Republicans are blocking us" excuse if (when) things don't go perfectly.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:52 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Norm Franken would be just the kind of compromise I'd expect from wishy-washy Minnesota politics!

I don't see how the US Supremes would even touch this- the state supreme court has certified this pretty unanimously, and isn't a congressional representative up to the states to decide exclusively? Seems like the SCOTUS wouldn't even want to get involved, nor are in session to do so for a while.

Then again... recorded history.
posted by hincandenza at 11:52 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I live a block away from him. If he's in Minneapolis, I might swing by his house to see if he's going to do a press conference there. I managed to get some pictures last time this happened.

I aslo once get pictures of him lying on the ground playing with a dog. I don't think he has realized that I'm not really press, but just a guy who lives next door and wanders by every so often.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2009 [22 favorites]


Anybody know how Franken feels about the energy bill? I guess this would mean that supporters of a Senate bill only need to worry about rounding up conservative Dems, right?
posted by gurple at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2009


I guess Hoekstra's been following this event closely.

Prompting me to see what RedState has to say. I didn't find anything, at least not before I found the hagiography of Billy Mays, capitalist di tutti capi and entrepreneur extraordinaire.

!!!!

I'd like to take a moment to thank conservatives for truly being the gift that won't stop giving.
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on June 30, 2009


The Court's decision doesn't direct him to sign it, however.

The court says:

we affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken [...] is entitled under Minn. 32 Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.

If they affirm that he is entitled to receive it, someone has to sign it. That person is the Governor.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:55 AM on June 30, 2009


Uh-oh.

I have posted the opinion here. I'll have more analysis soon. The bottom line is that the Court says that Franken is entitled to an election certificate, but there is no direct order to the state's governor to sign one. We'll see what the governor does, if Coleman does not concede, as he well may at this point. If not, the opinion is not final until the period for rehearing ends (see the final footnote of the opinion). That's a ten day period, enough time to file an emergency stay application in the U.S. Supreme Court. It would go to Justice Alito, now circuit justice for the Eighth Circuit.
posted by maudlin at 11:56 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that SCOTUS is the only way to continue this case. Couldn't Coleman file a suit in federal district court alleging 14A due process violations? I'm no election law expert, but wasn't the state battle a fight over a Minnesota statute? This seems plausible to me. I'm not sure a federal court would hear it, and certainly wouldn't issue an injunction to prevent Franken from being seated (so there's no real reason why Coleman would bother), but this is conceivably in play. Of course, I have no idea what possible remedies there'd be. Ok, I'm clearly not an election law expert.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:57 AM on June 30, 2009


Pawlenty indicated Sunday he would follow the directions of the court. Now go get 'em Al.
posted by Ber at 11:58 AM on June 30, 2009


Love the comments:

No Better Than Iran
Iran didn't count all of the votes either.


Strib comments are consistently the worst things I see on the internet. There must be other barrels with lower bottoms, but I haven't seen them.

And I think Pawlenty'll sign the certificate.
posted by COBRA! at 11:59 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a giant step for both democracy and Saturday Night Live.
posted by zaelic at 11:59 AM on June 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is the time when The Star-Tribune's moronic policy of having anonymous, mostly unmoderated comments, which means it has been completely taken over by drooling right wing single-issue partisans who will use any story as a pretext for claiming that Obama is a socialist and abortion is murder, really pays off.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:01 PM on June 30, 2009


If they affirm that he is entitled to receive it, someone has to sign it. That person is the Governor.

If the Franken legal team has a clue, they've already typed up the request for a Writ of Mandamus to compel issuance of the certificate.

In bad news, the Supreme Court justice who is the Circuit Justice for the 8th Circuit is Alito, who'd be the first to decide on stays and such pending certiorari.
posted by eriko at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2009


ok, we need new slang for the supreme court. SCOTUS sounds like that seam down the middle of the scrotum, and 'the supremes' is giving me whiplash looking around for Diana Ross...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:04 PM on June 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is a giant step for both democracy and Saturday Night Live.

"Justice Ginsburg, you ignorant slut."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:04 PM on June 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


I guess we're all on the same page about the Strib comments, huh?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:05 PM on June 30, 2009


They might take it to the Supremes? Really?

I doubt it. I don't think Diana Ross is in any state to weigh legal arguments right now.
posted by scody at 12:06 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


damn you, sexyrobot
posted by scody at 12:06 PM on June 30, 2009


Palwenty is going to sign the certificate because he wants a political future and is eyeing up a Presidential run.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on June 30, 2009


Remember: Strib = Lileks. AND WE ALL KNOW ABOUT THAT LILEKS FELLER.

(Just causin' some trouble. Don't mind me.)
posted by grubi at 12:07 PM on June 30, 2009


COBRA!: "
Strib comments are consistently the worst things I see on the internet. There must be other barrels with lower bottoms, but I haven't seen them.
"

You haven't read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's website. Any time there's a murder on the predominantly-black North Side, there are monkey jokes. Fo reals.
posted by notsnot at 12:07 PM on June 30, 2009


I doubt it. I don't think Diana Ross is in any state to weigh legal arguments right now.

True, but Minnesota can kindly take councilwoman Martha Reeves off our hands here in Detroit if they really want a Motown star appellate decision.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:10 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


*exhales*
posted by ShadePlant at 12:11 PM on June 30, 2009


Are those Madoff specs he's wearing?

Too soon!
posted by coolguymichael at 12:12 PM on June 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


Note: The SCOMN opinion merely affirms the appelate court. The question is does that appellate opinion order issuance of the certificate? If so, then the affirmation lifts any stays against.
posted by eriko at 12:13 PM on June 30, 2009


Didn't the US Supremes just go on summer recess? Would they postpone that for this case?
posted by DreamerFi at 12:15 PM on June 30, 2009


Coleman will hold a press conference at 4:00 p.m./Franken at 5:15 p.m.
posted by ericb at 12:19 PM on June 30, 2009


Palwenty is going to sign the certificate because he wants a political future....

As a Republican, though. If he doesn't deny reality hand over fist he's going to lose the nom to Palin.
posted by DU at 12:19 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


For more information, here is a link to other court filings in the case. Here are the Governor's statements from Sunday.
posted by Muddler at 12:20 PM on June 30, 2009


ok, we need new slang for the supreme court. SCOTUS sounds like that seam down the middle of the scrotum, and 'the supremes' is giving me whiplash...

The Nine?
posted by rokusan at 12:20 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Didn't the US Supremes just go on summer recess? Would they postpone that for this case?

Analysts are saying "highly unlikely." They wouldn't hear the case until next February, or so.
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on June 30, 2009


60 VOTES, BITCHES
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:21 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the National Democratic Senatorial Committee
“As we’ve seen over the past 238 days, no matter how many times Norm Coleman goes to court, the result of the election never changes: Al Franken earned more votes than Norm Coleman. Al Franken was elected to the Senate and he ought to be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota. We’ve always said that Norm Coleman deserved his day in court, and he got eight months. Now we expect Governor Pawlenty to do the right thing, follow the law, and sign the election certificate. From health care to the Supreme Court to getting our economy moving again, the challenges facing us are complex and we need Al Franken in the Senate. In this historic and urgent moment in our history, Minnesotans have gone long enough without full representation. Al Franken will be an critical voice on the issues before us and it’s time to let him get to work.”
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on June 30, 2009


Those Republicans, they just get wackier and wackier.
posted by kldickson at 12:22 PM on June 30, 2009


SCOTUS sounds like that seam down the middle of the scrotum

You mean a raphe?
posted by HumuloneRanger at 12:23 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


oops
posted by HumuloneRanger at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2009


Al Franken will be an critical voice on the issues before us

Yeah. And besides, Norm Coleman is an cretin.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2009


Damn, 238 days?
posted by smackfu at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2009


It may have taken longer than the 2000 presidential election, but at least the real winner got the nod.

For now.
posted by tommasz at 12:26 PM on June 30, 2009


Damn, 238 days?

And...
– $51.1 million has been raised between Coleman and Franken for the entire campaign
– $50.3 million has been spent between the two candidates
– $11 million (at least) has been spent on the recount
– 2,424,946 votes were cast
– 312 votes separate the candidates (Franken leads)
– 239 days since Election Day 2008
– 34 weeks since Election Day 2008
– 7 months, 27 days since Election Day 2008
– 4 seasons seen since Election Day 2008 election.
posted by ericb at 12:26 PM on June 30, 2009


God damn it, how long does it take Minnesota to pick between two New York Jews who smoked pot?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 PM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


ok, we need new slang for the supreme court

Following the abbreviation for Supreme Commander, I like to think of them as SupCor.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:29 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Startrib's comments on political articles are horrible because they open them for comment. Of course nutjobs post to things like local newspaper articles. That's why I come to metafilter (I'm being serious, not snarky). Slap a $5 membership on something and the cockroaches largely go scurrying for the dark.

oddly enough though, I'm continually in shock at the frequency of deep and insightful comments for startrib articles on the Minnesota Twins. The smarties here apparently have all dumped politics for baseball.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:31 PM on June 30, 2009


60 VOTES, BITCHES

Kennedy and Byrd are sick and have missed votes lately, so that's 58. Even if they do show up for votes, getting all of the Democrats to agree, is next to impossible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:32 PM on June 30, 2009


Wow, and he's only had to waste 1/12 of his Senate term on frivolous lawsuits.

Good think he's not a Congressperson, otherwise he'd have to start planning his re-election campaign already.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:32 PM on June 30, 2009


Ack.

"Good think he's not a Congressperson" should have been "Good think he's not a Representative"
posted by Afroblanco at 12:35 PM on June 30, 2009


AM I SUPPOSED TO CHEER OR KEEP HOLDING MY BREATH? Someone dumb it down for me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:36 PM on June 30, 2009


On the outcome itself: First of all, SWEET!

But, technically Franken didn't win. Neither did Coleman.

I think many of the public lack a basic understanding of measurement error in elections involving a large pools of votes. It's technically impossible, whether it's a computer or a person or a mix of both, to have a vote where every vote is counted correctly. So the idea that this outcome is actually showing the "real winner" is a bit of a stretch.

The margin of error here (300ish votes) is well inside what any computer or any human could count for a pool of that size. That's a tie.

So basically Franken won because he was legally entitled to a recount after the computer count, that recount showed him as having more votes, and Coleman after two appeals couldn't show that the recount was improperly conducted.

By the letter of the law, Franken wins (and should have quicker than this). By the numbers, nobody won. In this situation you either do an instant-runoff or you re-vote.

All that said, SWEET!
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:38 PM on June 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


AM I SUPPOSED TO CHEER OR KEEP HOLDING MY BREATH? Someone dumb it down for me.

Franken is very very very unlikely to not be seated now.

Pawlenty would be shooting himself in the foot by not certifying this outcome now, and he wants to run for President. He's already bailing on a 3rd run at Governor (which he'd lose) for this very reason.

Pawlenty is about the only speed bump now. Coleman could appeal to U.S. Supreme Court, but I don't think that stops Franken from being seated now.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2009


> God damn it, how long does it take Minnesota to pick between two New York Jews who smoked pot?

They look so much alike!
posted by ardgedee at 12:44 PM on June 30, 2009


I just hope that when Franken is seated, when he gives press conferences or otherwise appears on television, that he frequently says "... me, Al Franken ..." while smiling at the camera, and his name appears at the bottom of the screen each time.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:47 PM on June 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


Franken won already? Wow, that was fast.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:48 PM on June 30, 2009


But, technically Franken didn't win.

OH NO!

By the letter of the law, Franken wins

HOORAY!

By the numbers, nobody won.

STOP TORTURING ME
posted by brain_drain at 12:49 PM on June 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'm glad that Franken's victory was confirmed by the courts. However, I don't understand why we can't apply a statistical approach to close elections. If the results are not certifiable within some error margin (and I can't imagine that a difference of less than 300 votes is outside error), just redo the damn thing. If it cost $60M to challenge the results in the courts, I can't imagine it would cost more to redo the Senatorial election, and at least the elected official can get to work for his or her state sooner.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


But, technically Franken didn't win. Neither did Coleman.

In a way this is true. It's very possible that, were we to do a full recount, with the margin of error, Coleman would come out ahead. So, strictly speaking, because there is no way to know who really would have had more votes, this is, essentially a tie.

When votes are tied in this instance, by Minnesota law, the decision is essentially made by a coin toss. They recounted, Franken won; I'm going to simply treat that as the coin toss.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:50 PM on June 30, 2009



I'm glad that Franken's victory was confirmed by the courts. However, I don't understand why we can't apply a statistical approach to close elections. If the results are not certifiable within some error margin (and I can't imagine that a difference of less than 300 votes is outside error), just redo the damn thing. If it cost $60M to challenge the results in the courts, I can't imagine it would cost more to redo the Senatorial election, and at least the elected official can get to work for his or her state sooner.



They would still be fighting in court whether to have a revote or not.
posted by milarepa at 12:53 PM on June 30, 2009




If I were to advise Norm, and I know our Supremes, I would urge an appeal to this august body, they helped out W, and can C be far behind?
posted by Postroad at 12:56 PM on June 30, 2009


I hope his Senate office produces some Franken-related stuff for fundraising, because I would love to get my hands on a Franken Stein.
posted by jamstigator at 12:56 PM on June 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


C'mon, Muddler. That's just sinking thinking.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2009


Pawlenty said he would sign the certificate validating Franken if ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
And I think the court, very smartly, is calling Pawlenty's bluff. Look, if the court ordered Pawlenty to sign the certificate, then there would be all sorts of recriminations in the media and political circles...screaming about "judicial fiat" and "activist judges" etc. And a court order would leave Pawlenty with a big "they made me do it" talking point for his inevitable appearance on FoxNews.

This way, the court is essentially saying to Pawlenty, "You're the fucking governor. Now act like one."
posted by Thorzdad at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2009


Coleman speaking now, live on MPR.
posted by ALongDecember at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2009


He concedes. Wow.
posted by maudlin at 1:02 PM on June 30, 2009


"Oh it's basically a tie!" is spot-on and well-founded in mathematics, other than the part where it's completely wrong. Public misunderstanding of math goes so far as to the point where people will say things that they think are mathematically true without actually doing the math to see if the statistics back up the point they're attempting to make.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:02 PM on June 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


YOSH!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:03 PM on June 30, 2009


Oh it's basically a tie!" is spot-on and well-founded in mathematics, other than the part where it's completely wrong.

This is why mathemeticians are rarely popular party guests.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:03 PM on June 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


"I think many of the public lack a basic understanding of measurement error in elections involving a large pools of votes. It's technically impossible, whether it's a computer or a person or a mix of both, to have a vote where every vote is counted correctly. So the idea that this outcome is actually showing the 'real winner' is a bit of a stretch."

It doesn't apply here but it's possible to hold elections, even with hundreds of thousands of voters, with zero margin of error.
posted by Mitheral at 1:04 PM on June 30, 2009


APNewsAlert

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican Norm Coleman concedes to Democrat Al Franken in Minn. Senate race.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:04 PM on June 30, 2009


Coleman conceded very graciously.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 PM on June 30, 2009


> This way, the court is essentially saying to Pawlenty, "You're the fucking governor. Now act like one."

Like this, you mean?
posted by ardgedee at 1:05 PM on June 30, 2009


Because he's good enough, and he's smart enough, and gosh darn it, 60 more people like him than Coleman.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:05 PM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Coleman conceded very graciously.

Few months too late for that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:06 PM on June 30, 2009 [21 favorites]


I got 50 bucks riding on this one. The moment Franken is seated.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2009


Coleman Concedes; Lileks to Press on to Supreme Court
Asserts that Arguments put Forth in "Bleats," Repeated by Small Child Called "Gnat," Carry Same Standing as Legal Briefs
posted by scody at 1:09 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Coleman announced he will not appeal. This is OVER
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:13 PM on June 30, 2009


So, now Franken can be funny again?
posted by brain_drain at 1:14 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay, it's over. Now back to your regularly scheduled episode of Who Has Governor Sanford Screwed Around With Now? Followed by a brand new episode of Who Gets Michael's Money? And for the late show, an episode of Didn't Farrah Somebody Die Too. Ah, mainstream media, what would I do without you.
posted by jamstigator at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Public misunderstanding of math goes so far as to the point where people will say things that they think are mathematically true without actually doing the math to see if the statistics back up the point they're attempting to make.

I don't do voting analysis, but I'd be curious to find out if it meets the assumptions for applying a binomial distribution. In different areas, a vote will have a different probability for its outcome than in another area, and I think some neighborhoods will tend to vote as a bloc (richer neighborhoods tend to vote Republican, for example). Maybe throwing out those assumptions is valid, but there are also some problems with using standard confidence intervals with the binomial, where a slight parameter change can have a large impact on the bounds.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on June 30, 2009


Now of course the Dems will have no "the Republicans are blocking us" excuse if (when) things don't go perfectly.

Exactly. They're still not going to pass decent legislation and now the fault will rest obviously and squarely on the head on Senate leadership and Harry Reid. That's where it rested before, too, but now they can't paper over it.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on June 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


jamstigator: I'm still pissed about the mid-season cancellation of "Iranian Democratic Revolution Happy Fun Show!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:33 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Public misunderstanding of math goes so far as to the point where people will say things that they think are mathematically true without actually doing the math to see if the statistics back up the point they're attempting to make.

We can recast this in terms of ATM cash-counting ability.

Let's say of 2.4M votes, we'd need, what, a (SWAG) variation of +/- 400 such that we'd expect to see +100 votes go one way to reverse the outcome with any frequency.

400/2.4M is a rate of error of 1 in 6000.

Let's say I pull out $100/week in twenties, that's 20 bills a month. If I see at least one mistake, plus or minus, in 25 years then that's sufficient error to make ATM machines not suitable for mechanical vote counting at this tight tolerance.
posted by @troy at 1:48 PM on June 30, 2009


I dunno about the measurement error thing. If we were talking about polling, certainly then we'd be talking about using a sample to try to estimate the underlying population value - and thus measurement error comes along for the ride. I suppose that we could similarly call a vote an estimation of true support in the population - but I don't know that I'm comfortable with that. It seems to me that the votes are the population itself, and shouldn't be considered a sample from a larger population. The question isn't "who had the most support in the voting public?" but "who had the most votes?"

Thus there can be procedural errors, and even tampering, but not measurement error. A shift from "who got the most votes" to an estimation of support in the population opens up more potential cans of worms than we already have in the election system post-Bush v. Gore. Once an acceptance of that principle sank in, we'd be talking about weighting results or using statistical corrections to the vote totals for measurement error.

That's why I tend to want to stomp on any description of this kind of situation as a tie, with the margin of victory being due to measurement error. I think in an election the only situation that should be described as a tie is a situation with vote totals that are exactly equal. Franken won because he had the most votes after all the counting and recounting procedures were done.
posted by Chanther at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


My dad hopes he issues out a weekly/monthly newsletter titled Franken Sense.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:20 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie : This is why mathemeticians are rarely popular party guests.

Not true! The secret is to get them really drunk, and pit them against one another while the crowd circles them and places bets.

It's like a blood-Kumite for nerds.
posted by quin at 2:28 PM on June 30, 2009


Fucking. Finally.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:28 PM on June 30, 2009


My dad hopes he issues out a weekly/monthly newsletter titled Franken Sense.

He'd probably just overthink every issue.

/Franken Beans
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:28 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


60 VOTES, BITCHES

Apart from the aforementioned herding cats aspect of getting the dems to vote in a bloc, I'm sure they'll now agree to some Republican rules change that declares a majority to be 70 votes.

You know, because they wouldn't want to appear partisan, or unsportsmanlike.
posted by Naberius at 2:29 PM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


He'd probably just overthink every issue.

Likely... we have his books.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:30 PM on June 30, 2009


Holy cow, he actually conceded. That's the last thing I expected Coleman to do.

Hopefully, it will be. (Uh... the last thing. That he does.)
posted by graventy at 2:41 PM on June 30, 2009


I guess you could say Coleman stove. I wouldn't say it, but you could.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:51 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, they shoulda agreed to share the office. Odd days democrat, even, republican.

Hey, it works in the private sector.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:56 PM on June 30, 2009


Franking Privileges!
posted by absalom at 2:58 PM on June 30, 2009


Seems like we have a lot of puns left unmilked from the Norm Coleman and Al Franken saga. I guess this is the norm for a lot of heated, drawn out, Frankenstein-ish contests.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:01 PM on June 30, 2009


This is great news.... FOR JOHN MCCAIN
posted by ob at 3:01 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


My dad hopes he issues out a weekly/monthly newsletter titled Franken Sense.

I'm actually a little disappointed he didn't lose to Coleman in a landslide, if only for the inevitable "Franken Buried" headline.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:14 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Suck it, Norm! Please crawl back in your slimy little hole in the ground and disappear for good.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 3:15 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, don't blame me, I voted for Lizard People.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:17 PM on June 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


Just got back from the Al Franken presser, which was pretty typical for that sort of thing, except that Franken's staff provided brownies and everybody applauded. Took some photos.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:22 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, this was Franken's one chance to end his presser with "LIVE FROM NEW YORK IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!"

I'm so bummed.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:30 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the National Democratic Senatorial Committee: "Minnesotans have gone long enough without full representation."

So he's gonna go to bat for DC next, right?
posted by inigo2 at 3:33 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


so, best new slang for the supreme court posted here?
yep, gotta go with "Lizard People"
posted by sexyrobot at 3:47 PM on June 30, 2009


Brandon Blatcher: Coleman conceded very graciously.

I don't think conceding 238 days after you lost, and later lost again, and later lost again, can be called "gracious."

However, one good thing does come out of this entire fiasco: it is an excellent teachable moment for young voters (and, come to think of it, to all voters). Enough with the "my vote doesn't count" bullshit. Fewer than 300 votes made the difference in a race for the U.S. Senate. YOUR VOTE COUNTS.
posted by tzikeh at 3:52 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


About friggin' time.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2009


YOUR VOTE COUNTS

Unless you're voting for the President, you don't live in a swing state, and you're voting against the tide, therefore basically being nullified by the electoral college process.

OTHERWISE IT TOTALLY COUNTS.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:08 PM on June 30, 2009


The margin of error here (300ish votes)

There is no margin of error here.

I'm not saying there's no error in the count. Margin of error has a specific meaning in statistics, actually referring to only one specific type of error: sampling error, i.e., the error due to attempting to extrapolate from a random sample which you've counted to the whole that you haven't counted. When you actually do count the whole, there is by definition no sampling error, thus there is no margin of error. That's not to say there might not be errors of other types, notably the tabulation eror described in the FiveThirtyEight article 0xFCAF linked above. But those errors are not what is referred to by the "margin of error."

You can have a margin of error when you're talking about polls leading up to an election, because the polls only count a thousand people or so. The tabulated election results themselves are a count of the whole, not a sample of the whole (as Chanther notes, the election winner is the person who gets the most votes actually cast, not the person who would have gotten the most votes if everyone eligible to vote did so). Thus, by definition, there is no sampling error in the election results (although there are possibly other types of errors), and therefore no margin of error.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:08 PM on June 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "God damn it, how long does it take Minnesota to pick between two New York Jews who smoked pot?"

Meant in jest, I know, but I was just wondering how long you have to live in a state before you're considered "from" there? Al Franken may have been born in NY, but he grew up in MN. Coleman, by contrast, didn't move there until after he had finished law school.

And Franken really does know Minnesota. He had this one line in a bit on PHC a few years back: "In Minnesota, even the Jews are Lutheran." So true, my mother is a perfect example.
posted by Araucaria at 4:17 PM on June 30, 2009


Now, about the vote itself. It's a perfect example of the failure of plurality voting. Neither candidate was satisfactory to a majority of the population, because they were given the false choice of choosing only one candidate.

With an Approval ballot, voters could have selected both their favorite and an acceptable compromise. And Approval can be implemented now, with no change to ballot boxes or counting software.
posted by Araucaria at 4:21 PM on June 30, 2009


Over 100 comments, and no mention of how happy Franni's expression makes you? Of all the shots to use as the header graphic, they chose the one where she looks like a mix between an excited 5 year old and an excited grandmother. "Oh goodness, hello! There are so many happy people around here with cameras! Hello! Hi! How are you? Hello!" It's that joy you can show when you don't think about how other people will react to seeing your joy, and not the happiness of winning the lottery or some other adult reason for showing unfettered joy.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:28 PM on June 30, 2009


He's Senator Franken, and Norm's not.
posted by 3.2.3 at 4:29 PM on June 30, 2009


Roman Graves: Unless you're voting for the President, you don't live in a swing state, and you're voting against the tide, therefore basically being nullified by the electoral college process.

I stand by my original statement. Enjoy whatever it is you're getting out of discouraging active citizenship--which seems to have worked wonders this past election cycle.
posted by tzikeh at 4:36 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not discouraging active citizenship, I'm discouraging the complacency of "yeah it's broken, but just keep voting". Living in a fantasy world where every vote counts is a dangerous position to have and to pass on to other people, and in my mind ultimately does a lot more harm than good to our democracy. Yes, vote in the presidential race. But be aware of what your vote means (which, like it or not, might be nothing) and become a more active citizen by hounding your state legislatures to support measures like this.

/derail
posted by Roman Graves at 4:58 PM on June 30, 2009


Roman, assuming we get a national popular vote for president, how do you think it would play out if we had a Florida 2000 situation in the national vote total, ie an essentially tied race?
posted by empath at 5:05 PM on June 30, 2009


Unless you're voting for the President, you don't live in a swing state, and you're voting against the tide, therefore basically being nullified by the electoral college process.

Any state is potentially a swing state. Who would have thought that Indiana or North Carolina would even be in play this year, let alone go democratic? If you're in a non-swing state and you're voting for a winner, you're just as much wasting your vote as as you are if you're voting for the loser. Hell, by your metric, if anybody wins by mor than a vote, you wasted it.

Regardless, votes for the loser in a non-swing state are what gradually turns them into swing states. If you go from losing by 10% one year to losing by 5%, then that encourages candidates, encourages money to flow in, attracts volunteers, etc...
posted by empath at 5:11 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Likewise, running up the score demoralizes the opposition -- just look at the GOP every where north of the Potomac river.
posted by empath at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


it is an excellent teachable moment for young voters (and, come to think of it, to all voters). Enough with the "my vote doesn't count" bullshit. Fewer than 300 votes made the difference in a race for the U.S. Senate. YOUR VOTE COUNTS

No. Or at least, not unless you can vote 300 times.

The outcome of the election is still invariant across any voter's vote.

Having your vote "count" in that sense is an absolute knife-edge condition. Either your individual, single vote makes or breaks a tie, or it does not. If it does not, it does not. It doesn't matter the margin by which is doesn't, whether that's 300 votes or a billion, only that it does not. There's no almost.

Enjoy whatever it is you're getting out of discouraging active citizenship--which seems to have worked wonders this past election cycle.

So you're taking the position that if factual, correct information were disseminated and understood, voting rates would decline, therefore that factual and correct information must be suppressed?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:13 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


empath, a nationwide "Floridaesque" outcome would certainly be a mess, but if that's an argument against the popular vote you're falsely favoring convenience over democracy. The probability of a recount, based on state results from 1980-2006, is 1 in 332. Florida obviously would not even have been an issue in 2000 if it had been a popular vote.
posted by Roman Graves at 6:26 PM on June 30, 2009


Either your individual, single vote makes or breaks a tie, or it does not. If it does not, it does not. It doesn't matter the margin by which is doesn't, whether that's 300 votes or a billion, only that it does not. There's no almost.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

You alone don't matter, but you with other people who think like you can change the world. Their votes mean less if you don't show up, just like yours means less if they don't.
posted by Malor at 6:44 PM on June 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


ok, we need new slang for the supreme court. SCOTUS sounds like that seam down the middle of the scrotum, and 'the supremes' is giving me whiplash...

The Nine?

Nazgûl?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:52 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


The GOP ca. 2001-2008 fucked up so badly that we've got Stewart Smalley in the Senate and a black dude named "Hussein" in the White House.

Thank you, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. From the bottom of my librul heart.
posted by bardic at 8:43 PM on June 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Let's say I pull out $100/week in twenties, that's 20 bills a month. If I see at least one mistake, plus or minus, in 25 years then that's sufficient error to make ATM machines not suitable for mechanical vote counting at this tight tolerance.--posted by @troy

I've used ATM machines since around 1978, more than 30 years, and I've never seen a mistake. And ATM machines seem much more complicated than vote counting machines. I'm not whether or not this is the point you were trying to make.
posted by eye of newt at 8:47 PM on June 30, 2009


When I become empress, people who say "ATM machines" won't be allowed to vote.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:13 PM on June 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


What if you forgot your PIN number and the ATM machine ate your card?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:11 PM on June 30, 2009


Franken and Davis on Late Night with David Letterman, twenty-odd years ago, and you can see it, even then! (Also, Al's been doing the draw-the-48-states thing that long? "Bar bet." Oh, okay.)
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:30 AM on July 1, 2009


My favorite Al Franken story comes from "Live from New York", Tom Shales' excellent collected history of SNL. Happened during one of the first few years of the show. Henry Kissinger called the show and asked for some tickets for his son. Franken grabbed the receiver, hollered "If it weren't for the Christmas bombings in Cambodia, you could've had those fucking tickets!" and slammed the phone down.

He once also wandered down to the NBC News offices when Spiro Agnew was in town to appear on a news program, and berated the fellow while he was in makeup. Franken may not have won friends at 30 Rock that way, but hey, dude's going to the Senate.
posted by Spatch at 6:30 AM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


When I become empress, people who say "ATM machines" won't be allowed to vote.--posted by CunningLinguist

That's the think about acronyms that become commonly used--they becomes words or names on their own. It is not International Business Machines, it is IBM. NASA is NASA--you won't even find the pre-acronym words on its website. Common usage has made NASA a non-acronym name. So it's ATM, not an Automated Teller Machine, and it is also a contraption, so it becomes ATM machine. Cunning linguists see beyond the new word to the former acronym and go crazy, running around screaming and waving their arms and denying people the right to vote.
posted by eye of newt at 8:13 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


hmmm...so, should people who use the term "ATM machine" be given the right to vote?
yeah, I dunno, you might have to take that case all the way to the Lizard People...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:03 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can not convey the happiness that comes from knowing we have a sitting US Senator who once wrote a book titled "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot".
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:13 AM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The crucial difference between an ATM machine and a Vote Machine is that:

A) It's generally immediately apparent when a mistake has been made.
B) Both parties to the transaction have an extreme interest in the accuracy of the transaction.
C) Detailed records are kept of all transactions, easily available to both parties at any time, if there is a dispute.
posted by empath at 9:19 AM on July 1, 2009


I think an electronic voting machine that produces a machine and human readable paper record, which is verifiable by the voter before submission is the ideal solution.

You have a simplified voting process, you get an immediate provisional count. Then you get an automatic machine recount of the paper records, then you get a human recount if thee is some kind of discrepancy or dispute. The human counted paper ballots are the 'official' tally.
posted by empath at 9:27 AM on July 1, 2009


Also -- I think it would be best to have different companies make the voting machine, the central database and the paper ballot readers, as well as having the standards for how they communicate be open.
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on July 1, 2009


The Nine? Nazgûl?

Tell me it's not perfect, I dare you.

They're already in costume, and some of them are clearly from somewhere deep in the Second Age.
posted by rokusan at 9:48 AM on July 1, 2009


The crucial difference between an ATM machine and a Vote Machine is that...

D) None of the letters V-o-t-e stand for "machine."
posted by rokusan at 9:50 AM on July 1, 2009


I've used ATM machines since around 1978, more than 30 years, and I've never seen a mistake.

I'm surprised by this, actually.

I've received extra bills. I've been shorted. And I've received zero when the machine believed it had paid me out. And that's many brands of machine in many states and countries.

Not that this has anything to do with voting machines (they're bad, and it's not because of 'accuracy'), but I'm surprised you've never had a miscount.
posted by rokusan at 9:52 AM on July 1, 2009




D) None of the letters V-o-t-e stand for "machine."

Goddamn that's fucking obnoxious.
posted by empath at 10:07 AM on July 1, 2009


The Nine? Nazgûl?
Tell me it's not perfect, I dare you.


how about "The Justice Machine"?
posted by sexyrobot at 10:13 AM on July 1, 2009


D) None of the letters V-o-t-e stand for "machine."
Goddamn that's fucking obnoxious.


Oh, lighten up. It's all harmless funnies.

As for voting, sure you can do all that electronic stuff. Sounds fine, and better than the mechanism-for-easy-automated-fraud they've been promoting for years now.

But really, how is all that better than just using paper to start with, exactly? We get faster reporting of results? Is that really important enough for such complexity?

I think "slow and accurate" would be everyone's choice... if we were asked.
posted by rokusan at 12:13 PM on July 1, 2009


I've been secretly hoping Obama has been biding his time until Franken was seated.

Now of course the Dems will have no "the Republicans are blocking us" excuse if (when) things don't go perfectly.

Exactly. They're still not going to pass decent legislation and now the fault will rest obviously and squarely on the head on Senate leadership and Harry Reid. That's where it rested before, too, but now they can't paper over it.


Pete Rouse and Rahm Emanuel should be on notice as well.
posted by minkll at 12:20 PM on July 1, 2009


I think "slow and accurate" would be everyone's choice... if we were asked.

fully agree...been saying this for years...the rush to have nearly instantaneous results is just an opportunity for chaos and fraud. cryptographically secure voting is another thing this country really needs...some of the methods are suprisingly simple.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:09 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope he does all of his press conferences with the one-man satellite feed attached to a helmet again, like he did in the 80s on SNL.

I know it's silly to wish for this, but if you would've told 13-year-old me that Franken would be elected to the Senate, Dennis Miller would be an outspoken Republican and Jesse Ventura would be governor of Minnesota one day, I never would've believed it
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:45 AM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


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