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Franken-Coleman Update, 01/30-31/09: Lies, Danged Lies, and Statistics

franken-coleman-court.thumbnail.jpgHello, folks!  Sorry about the lack of updates for yesterday.  The problem is that there was a stunning lack of action, as the Election Contest Court adjourned after only half a day’s work yesterday; the most notable thing was that the Coleman people managed not to screw anything up and may have actually scored a point — though whether that winds up actually helping them in the end is up for debate.  Much of the real action, in fact, happened during the ECC’s afternoon hearing on various motions, including a key summary judgment motion — and even then there were no rulings made yesterday.

The morning belonged to Joe Mansky, the elections manager for Ramsey County, Minnesota’s second-most-populous county and where the city of Saint Paul is located.  Eric Kleefeld notes that the Coleman camp quizzed him and scored what on the surface sounds like a coup:

While examining Ramsey County (St. Paul) elections director Joe Mansky this morning, Coleman attorney John Rock was able to secure an expert opinion that the most likely reason for some of the voting discrepancies that Coleman has complained about is that a number of absentee ballots were accidentally counted twice, thanks to a duplication process for damaged ballots and a failure to label them properly.

Franken’s attorneys will be cross-examining Mansky on Monday; it will be interesting to see how they counter this.   A hint may have been provided by their getting a deposition from local conservative blogger and St. Cloud State University economics professor King Banaian, who the Coleman people apparently wanted to testify on their behalf —  but don’t be surprised if they change their minds, as you’ll soon see.  

As local non-conservative blogger Spotty of The Cucking Stool notes, Team Coleman wants Banaian to testify about what they want to spin as a nasty and partisan difference in the rejection rate among various counties in Minnesota, presumably to push their ‘equal protection’ gambit. (This, as I mentioned earlier this week, is why the Coleman people are now arguing that absentee voting is a right, whereas up until a couple of weeks ago they’d argued that it was a privilege; if it’s a privilege, then equal protection doesn’t apply.)  Spotty then relates how David J. Burman, the deposing lawyer, handled the deposition: He got Banaian to admit that he got his data from the Coleman campaign, and also that all of the fancy statistical footwork the good professor brings to bear does nothing to show that any of the alleged excess rejections were illegal or incorrect in any way, or that elections officials were a cause, much less the sole cause as the Coleman camp wants to imply.

 As a commenter of Spotty’s said:   "The testimony probably won’t make it to court, because the results only indicate that they’re anomalous in an over-simplified binomial model, but KB would get destroyed on cross based on a flawed and statistically incorrect analysis.  C’mon, their expert statistical analysis is provided by a partisan Econ prof who does stats with obscurely-labeled Excel spreadsheets and doesn’t know what SAS or SPSS stands for?"

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