Earlier today, Al Franken wrote to Governor Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, requesting that they issue him a certificate of election so that he can assume Minnesota’s now-vacant Senate seat. Pawlenty and Ritchie quickly denied his request; both issued strong statements. Here is Pawlenty’s:
I have a duty to follow state law and our statutes are clear on this issue. I am prohibited from issuing a certificate of election until the election contest in the courts has been resolved.
That is certainly true; Section 204C.40 of the Minnesota Statutes provides:
No certificate of election shall be issued until seven days after the canvassing board has declared the result of the election. In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest.
So why did Franken bother? Many people don’t realize that under Minnesota law, post-election proceedings take place in three stages. Two of those stages, canvassing and recount, are complete, while the third, the election contest, is just beginning. Several important issues that will result in Norm Coleman gaining votes have not yet been addressed in either of the first two phases. I suspect that Franken is trying to don the mantle of inevitability on the theory that the more people think he is destined to win, the more likely he is to do so.
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