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So my operating theory about the election contest in Minnesota is that the GOP and Norm Coleman know their case is hopeless. Coleman went and got a new job already, so he's already moved on. Yet Republicans persist because with Hillary Clinton out of the Senate, they need a new nationally-known boogyman to fundraise from. And since Sen. Al Franken already has some notoriety, pretending that he "stole" the election may help turn him intro the fundraising draw they've lost with Clinton.

But what we saw yesterday in court was worse than having Coleman's team phone it in. It was as if they were trying to sabotage their client's case.

This afternoon the Coleman team was bringing in rejected absentee voters to show that their ballots were improperly tossed. So far the court has heard from six people, most of of whom said they were contacted by the Republican Party in the last few weeks. They mostly seemed sympathetic enough, putting a human face on the disenfranchised Coleman voter -- but at least two of them appeared to have been rejected properly under the conditions of Minnesota law.

One of the voters was Douglas Thompson, who admitted under oath that his girlfriend filled out his absentee ballot application for him, signing his name with her own hand and purporting to be himself. His ballot was rejected because the signature on his ballot envelope (his own) did not match the signature on the application (his girlfriend's). The Coleman team's argument appears to be that he is still a legal voter in Minnesota, as the signature on the ballot was his own, even if admitted dishonesty was involved in getting the ballot.

Got that? The Coleman team drags in six people, cherry-picking the best examples he has to try and make their case. And while some of those were legitimately compelling (like the old guy whose signature didn't match because he's now too blind to see what he's signing), they still blow it by bringing in a guy who fraudulently requested his ballot. The dude admitted, as a friendly witness, that his girlfriend lied to get him the ballot (and if I understood correctly, also registering him to vote).

At least those ACORN registrations for Mickey Mouse didn't actually try to vote...

Then they bring in another dud of a witness:

Another one of the voters, an older man named Wesley Briest, initially responded that he voted at the polls -- not by absentee. Then Coleman attorney James Langdon showed him his absentee ballot envelope, reminding him that he did not go to the polls, too. Upon cross-examination by Franken lawyer Kevin Hamilton, Briest admitted that his wife, who served as the witness on his ballot, did not fully complete the witness section of the absentee ballot.

Did they interview these witnesses before trial to make sure they were as sympathetic a case for voter disenfranchisement as they were supposed to be?

For his part, Coleman was tickled pink about the guy who fraudulently obtained his ballot and the other guy who hadn't had his ballot properly witnessed. It doesn't look like he really even cares anymore, just going through the motions as his legal team does their best to make their case look even weaker.

Sure, it's costing the state money and representation in the Senate, but if it'll help spice up future RNC fundraising pitches, it's apparently all worth it to them.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 09:09 AM PST.

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