[Via Newshounds] On last night's edition of Hannity and Colmes, the show's hosts took up the issue of the ongoing Minnesota Senate race, with Sean Hannity working himself into a full-on paranoiac lather about the prospects of Al Franken winning, and throwing all of the voter fraud kitchen sinks at Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Did you know that attending the Democratic National Convention is now evidence of "radical connections?" Apparently, it's true, which makes U.S. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson the William Ayers of terrorist floor exercises.
Anyway, Hannity, and also Colmes, talked with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, whose general read of the situation -- pre-recount -- was that there were statistical discrepancies that were cause for "concern." Without the relevant data on hand, I've no way of disputing whether Pawlenty's statistical analysis is right or not, but I would offer Nate Silver's sober takes on the matter as counterpoint, since Silver is on pretty solid footing where statistical analysis is concerned. That said, it's fair to give Pawlenty a certain amount of credit during this exchange: it would be the easiest thing in the world to just nod along to Hannity's fulminations and reinforce their veracity. Instead, Pawlenty sticks up for those who believe that accusations should be backed up with actual evidence, and he refuses to go along with the notion that his Secretary of State is some kind of cheat, saying, "I want to be clear about this. I know Mark Ritchie. He is a partisan on the other side of the aisle as I am as governor. He is trying his best to conduct this fairly." I have this feeling that Tim Pawlenty maybe wants people to take him seriously.
HANNITY: Joining us now Tim Pawlenty. As I describe that, I'm sorry, no reasonable person can conclude there's not funny business going on here. What is your thoughts on this?
PAWLENTY: Sean, in the practice of law there's a phenomenon called disparate impact which means when something is so out of proportion to the trend, it at least raises a concern or a suspicion. In Minnesota we don't have any evidence of wrong-doing, but these patterns cause us concern because even if you're in a part of the state that's overwhelmingly Democrat, Norm Coleman should be getting some of the votes, so it's cause for concern for sure.
HANNITY: What about 32 absentee ballots all going to Franken, every one of them? Does that not concern you? Does that not sound like cheating?
PAWLENTY: The Secretary of State in Minnesota has the authority over these matters, Minnesota has a reputation for clean and fair and good elections, we've got 4,100 precinct run by volunteers, they do a good job and we thank them. However, these disportionate patterns are a problem, and finding 32 ballots in the trunk of a car supposedly forgetting that they were there is suspicious.
HANNITY: We have a problem with the secretary of state, Mark Ritchie, do we not? He's a liberal partisan secretary of state. He has ties to this group we discuss a lot, ACORN, he attended the 2008 Democratic Convention, how much faith and hope and confidence do you have in Richie considering his radical relationship and partisanship even connected to moveon.org?
PAWLENTY: Well, all Secretary of States are elected and have partisan backgrounds of one party or the other, in this case the final decisions are made by a canvassing board, consisting of the Secretary of State plus four judges. the four judges were named, two of them I appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, two others have good reputations in Minnesota, so I think it's going to be a fair system.
HANNITY: Here's the problem. we did not have a uniform system in terms of the day after election day, to protect those ballots, so in other words the different precincts, so my fear is that the fix may already be in, and during the recount, we're going to discover oh, there's 500 more votes for Franken. We see that, for example, the Senate gains for Franken were 2.5 Times that than the gain for Barack Obama, and Barack Obama way outperformed Franken in the state of Minnesota. 2.9 times the total of the Democrats across the congressional races, and five Times the net loss that Democrats suffered for all statehouse races. So he's outperforming every single solitary measure. So I guess my question is do you suspect there's been cheating going on?
PAWLENTY: Sean, we don't have any direct evidence of that, and when you make an allegation, not you, but anybody, of fraud, it's a very serious matter, so you've got to have specific evidence to back it up. We do know that the statistics that you're citing and the patterns are suspicious, they seem to defy probability theory, they seem to defy common sense, even in an overwhelmingly democratic area Norm Coleman would be getting some of those votes. Twenty, thirty, forty percent, that's not happening so it raises a red flag.
COLMES: It's Alan, welcome back to our show. the 32 votes.
PAWLENTY: By the way, when you see your wife, tell her that I said thank you for staying with you.
COLMES: I'm not quite sure what that means. Maybe you're just trying to get her vote in 2012, I don't know, sir, but in any event.
HANNITY: That was good, you just earned yourself the line of the year.
COLMES: Believe me, I'll thank her a lot more than you will. Thirty-two votes in a car. If they wanted to steal this thing, wouldn't they make it 332 votes, 1,032 votes? They can do better than thirty-two, can't they?
PAWLENTY: What are you, Sherlock Colmes now?
COLMES: You're very funny, sir. You could steal more than 32 in a situation like that, right?
PAWLENTY: Well, in Minnesota we have a very sophisticated system, it's all electronic scanned ballots, and so it's hard to stuff the ballot box. Even you would have to admit if your job was to transmit ballots from the precinct to the state, you wouldn't throw them in your trunk and forget about them.
COLMES: Who put them in there? How do you think it got there? Shouldn't all those ballots be counted?
HANNITY: Not the cheating.
COLMES: Let the Governor answer.
PAWLENTY: This election officer said well, they threw them in there and at no point was his or her car outside of their supervision, but it seems clear that that's an act that shouldn't have happened.
COLMES: In terms of complaints about Mark Ritchie, what about in 2000, I didn't hear you complaining about Katherine Harris with ties to the Governor that happened to go to the --
PAWLENTY: I want to be clear about this. I know Mark Ritchie. He is a partisan on the other side of the aisle as I am as governor. He is trying his best to conduct this fairly. The laws in Minnesota have certain limitations. There's no evidence that he or anyone else has had actual wrong doing. What we're saying is that this process has resulted in some strange irregularities - statistical irregularities - and some suggestion that something is amiss.