Design the Senate race coin!

Come on, Nate Silver (, make up your mind. I posted yesterday about his calculations that suggested Al Franken stood to gain in the recount, and now he’s backing off the prediction (h/t: David Brauer)

Silver’s ability to predict the effect of human behavior in the future is based almost exclusively on history. And the more he researches history, the better it looks for Norm Coleman, apparently.

He looked at the results of voting in Florida which uses the optical scan system as Minnesota does, and found a relatively accurate count. Then he compared that to past reviews of Minnesota’s optical scan machines:

In Minnesota’s 2006 senate race, the audit detected just 53 discrepancies out of 94,073 ballots tested, or an error rate of 0.056%. However, these are the cases of machine error only, whereas the state has a liberal voter intent law to cover cases of voter error as well during the process of an actual recount.

Yeah…yeah…. let’s fast-forward past all the math and get to the bottom line:

Would this number be sufficient to provide Al Franken with a victory? It is very, very close. Using the Daily Kos estimate that 52.5% of recounted ballots will go to Franken (after dropping votes for third parties), we estimate a net gain of 206 votes for him, which is almost exactly the margin by which he presently trails Norm Coleman. (The margin is in fact exactly 206 votes as of this writing).

Great. A tie! Mark Ritchie last week said there are no provisions in Minnesota law for a revote, so we’re talking coin flip. For that, we need a coin.

I know there are some brilliant Photoshop types out here (like the one who created the Bob Collins Seal of Approval button, so take a stap at designing a U.S. Senate election in Minnesota coin. Send it to me at or use this form.

If I get enough, we’ll vote and the winner will get this swell prize:

And a patented two-hour tour of News Cut’s world headquarters.

  • The MN Statutes website is down, so I can’t make a direct citation. But what I remember is that in the event of a tie, the election is to be decided by “chance”, not necessarily a coin flip. For example, some ties have been decided by drawing cards and the high card wins.

    I propose that the “chance” be the purchase of 10 Powerball tickets for every drawing (2 per week) until one of them wins the jackpot. That way, we can draw out the suspense AND keep either of these Bozos from occupying the Senate for quite some time.

  • Tyler Suter

    Hah! That’s hilarious. I haven’t been able to tune into the blog much as of late, and I forgot how much humor – typically dry, my favorite kind – floats about. Thank you Erik, I needed a good chuckle.

  • Erik – Great idea but I believe that we have some “open seat” laws also to deal with. At some point one of two things (that I know of) will happen: Someone in the US Senate (not sure who, president of senate maybe) can “seat” someone or I believe the Governor can select.

    Third thing might be another election.

  • Donavon Cawley

    According to Minnesota State Statute 204C.34, tie votes are determined “by lot” by the State Canvassing Board (as Richie alluded to, a coin toss or something). I wonder if, then, Franken and Coleman might challenge the state’s Senate election with the Senate itself. It happened in New Hampshire, so it’s possible. However, this may result in a declaration of vacancy, which benefits neither party.

  • I think a Senatorial Leg Wrestling Match is a viable recommendation.

    Ventura jokes aside.