Finally – A second Minnesota senator

The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Al Franken, and Norm Coleman has finally abandoned his legal challenges. We have a senator.

Short term I know there are people who are put off by Franken’s history as a humorist and his loud contempt for pundits of the radical right. Long term I think he has the smarts and public demeanor to be a successful senator. If this is true, then he’ll be reelected easily. At that point he’ll have a true mandate from the people of Minnesota.

Meanwhile, we can’t pretend that the outcome is anything more precise than a coin toss. The votes are so close that we’ll never be able to figure out who “really” got the most votes. It’s technically impossible to count votes that accurately.

The fair and honest thing to say is that the state of Minnesota was split right down the middle on Election Day.

The recount was expensive and pointless. It could have yielded the tiny margin in favor of either candidate. Regardless of what technology we use to count votes, it’s impossible to accurately count millions of votes to a precision of 200 votes or less.

Senator-elect Franken was simply a lucky man.

In any case, we congratulate him and look forward to his Senate career.

A better solution?

Runoff elections are expensive, but they resolve the election in a timely manner. If we want the winner to have a majority, then we need runoffs.

If we will accept a plurality, then instead of recounts and runoffs, we should institute a formal coin-toss to resolve elections with less than a 1% difference in popular votes.

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