Franken side presents its own voter witnesses

Kevin Hamilton
Kevin Hamilton, an attorney for Democrat Al Franken, looks over an exhibit during the Senate recount trial.
AP Photo/Jim Mone, pool

After questioning nearly two dozen voters whose absentee ballots were not counted in Minnesota's disputed U.S. Senate election, attorneys for Democrat Al Franken have called Gary Poser back to the stand this afternoon.

But before questioning Poser, Franken attorney David Lillehaug asked the judges to play a 40-minute DVD that the Supervisor of Elections office uses to train election judges around the state.

"We believe it would be helpful to play the disc," Lillehaug told the three judge panel.

Last week, Republican Norm Coleman's attorneys called Poser, the state's top election official who oversaw the Senate recount in January, to testify in the trial. He was questioned largely about the process voters take to register.

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Coleman is contesting the outcome of the statewide recount that gave Franken a 225-vote lead in the race.

Earlier Tuesday, Franken attorneys called 22 voters, who testified to having filled out and signed the proper forms as they were instructed.

Coleman attended the trial Tuesday. He said while it took weeks for his side to present evidence, it's clear the election did not end with the statewide recount that put Franken ahead.

Coleman said the court created a problem for itself with its order of Friday, Feb. 13 that limited the number of votes he might be able to get counted, because hundreds of already counted ballots could also fall into one of those categories.

The ruling shrunk his universe to about 2,000 ballots, from about 12,000 it originally wanted counted.

"How the court resolves it, I don't know," Coleman said Tuesday. "But there's no question that a number of illegal ballots that have already been counted, whether on Election Day or Jan. 3, will probably far exceed the difference between the two candidates. So in the end, I think that's something that folks have to think about."

In all, Franken's team has about 800 of their own ballots to introduce into evidence. They expect to take about two to three weeks to present their side of the trial.

10:45 a.m.

Lawyers for Democrat Al Franken started calling witnesses this morning in the lawsuit over Minnesota's disputed U.S. Senate election.

By midmorning, Franken's team had called nearly 10 voters to the stand. Most of them had their absentee ballots rejected for signature mismatches.

Burnsville resident Fredrick Amara told Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton that the signatures on both the absentee ballot application and envelope were indeed his.

"You just sign your name differently on different occasions?" Hamilton asked.

"Yes, sir," Amara replied. "Back to page one, that's when I'm not in a hurry, when I'm not going fast. Back to page two, that's when I'm in a hurry, and I just sign it and drop it. That's all."

Attorneys for Republican Norm Coleman agreed Amara's vote -- along with several others -- should be counted.

In all, Franken's team has about 800 of their own ballots to introduce into evidence. They expect to take about two to threes weeks to present their side of the trial.

Coleman rested his case Monday, after more than five weeks of testimony from county election officials and individual voters.

Franken's lead attorney Marc Elias said on Monday he expects his side to take about half the time Coleman took to present evidence. He says his side will present evidence on ballots they believe should also be counted.

"We're going to try to move this process along," Elias said. "Where there are votes that should be counted, we're going to try to bring in the voter. Where we can't bring in the voter, we're going to bring in the auditor. But we are going to do this in as quick and as targeted a fashion as possible."

Coleman is contesting the outcome of a statewide recount, which gave Franken a 225-vote lead in the race.