The recount trial, part 4: On to the Supreme Courtby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A week later, Coleman filed his appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court.
On June 1, nearly seven months to the day after the election took place, the Supreme Court convened to hear Coleman's appeal.
THE FINAL CHAPTER FOR NORM COLEMAN
Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg argued, once again, that if one county used a loose standard to count absentee ballots, all counties should be required to use the same lower standard.
"We're trying to get them to be used as a control for what the proper evaluation of a ballot is, and that's only fair," said Friedberg.
Justice Alan Page took issue with Friedberg's "only fair" argument.
"But that's a little bit of, 'The cars in front of me were speeding. They got away. Why do I get the speeding ticket?'" Page said.
Friedberg responded by saying the ballots that were accepted on election night, that didn't perfectly meet the standards, weren't illegal ballots.
"They're not speeding, your honor. Those ballots that got in substantially complied with the law, and that's classic Minnesota law," said Friedberg. "The election officials in the metropolitan counties got it right. The election officials in the smaller counties got it wrong, and the trial court got it wrong. This is not a strict compliance state. This is a substantial compliance state."
Asked whether he thought there had been any fraud in Minnesota's 2008 Senate election, Friedberg answered unequivocally no.
Franken lawyer Marc Elias told Minnesota's highest court that Coleman failed to prove there were any systemic problems with the election.
Elias, however, did concede there were a few minor variations in answer to a question from Justice Paul Anderson.
"Counsel, were any illegally cast absentee ballots counted and included in the vote total?" Anderson asked.
"There is nothing in the record identifying a specific ballot that was in the vote totals," Elias responded. "I think it is fair to say that in every election, in every state, in every county, in every precinct, there is some ballot somewhere, where a felon voted and it wasn't picked up, ... But that has never been the standard in this state, or anywhere."
The opinion that many speculated would come within days, took weeks.
Finally on the last day of June, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the three-judge panel ruling that Al Franken received 312 more votes in Minnesota's 2008 Senate election than Norm Coleman. Within hours, Coleman publicly ended his legal fight, conceded the race and congratulated Franken.
Shortly afterward, a jubilant Al Franken held a news conference outside his Minneapolis home and -- for the third and final time -- declared victory in the Senate race.
The more than two-year battle for the Senate seat, which was marked by huge spending, divisiveness and drama, ended quickly and quietly on Tuesdasy evening, when Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie both signed the election certificate which officially designated Al Franken the second U.S. senator from Minnesota.