Man Without Qualities

Friday, November 01, 2002

Absentee Election

Absentee ballots really do seem to be a significant problem for Mr. Mondale's effort to return to the Senate.

The Associated Press reports: Almost 4.5 percent of Minnesotans voting cast absentee ballots in 1998, the last non-presidential election year. Officials expect absentee voters to account for 5 to 8 percent ballots cast in Minnesota this year.

The Pioneer Press says that roughly 104,000 Minnesotans are expected to cast absentee ballots this election. Absentee Wellstone votes will not count but absentee Coleman votes will count.

Although the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered all 87 counties to provide a new ballot to any absentee voter who wants one, the order fell far short of what the Democrats had requested. Despite the ruling, thousands of Wellstone votes are still likely to be cast because many absentee voters will not have time to revote before Tuesday's election. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how soldiers overseas will even receive the ballots before election day. Wellstone votes will be tallied but will not count toward the total of Walter Mondale, who is Wellstone's replacement on the ballot.

The most favorable poll I know of for Mr. Mondale is this Minnesota Poll - taken at the top of the positive media buzz in the aftermath of Paul Wellstone's tragic death and before the controversial Wellstone "Memorial" - which shows Mr. Mondale up by 8% over Mr. Coleman. MrMondale has many vulnerabilities - some of his own recent creation - so even that lead may well come down.

While it is not possible to know exactly how many votes the absentee ballot mess will cost Mr. Mondale, it is clear that the numbers of absentee votes is very much of the order of Mr. Mondale's supposed "lead" in the polls. In other words, the absentee ballot effect has the very real possibility of costing Mr. Mondale the election even if he is favored by a majority of Minnesota voters on election day.

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