(CNN) – As the Senate recount resumes this morning in Minnesota, the number of ballots being challenged is growing. Nearly two-thirds of the votes have been recounted in the battle for incumbent Republican Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate seat.
The recount, which began last Wednesday, could extend into next month.
Unofficial results from the November 4 election put Coleman, a freshman senator, just a few hundred votes ahead of his Democratic challenger, Al Franken, known across the country from his days on Saturday Night Live and from his years as a talk show host on Air America, the progressive radio network. The slim margin for Coleman, far less than one half of 1 percent, triggered an automatic recount, the first time there's ever been a recount of a U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.
Now election officials are in the middle of the long process of recounting all of the ballots at 107 sites across Minnesota, surrounded by election observers and lawyers from both campaigns, and the media.
The Secretary of State's office reports nearly 2,000 ballots have been challenged so far, with 948 questioned by Coleman's camp and 945 by Franken's.
According to the Secretary of State's office, 65.65 percent of the more than 2.9 million votes cast in the election were recounted through the weekend. Coleman's vote today is down 669 votes and Franken's down 621 votes.
The process could extend well into December. The recount sites across Minnesota have a deadline of the first week of December to report their results. After that, the state's canvassing board meets to rule on disputed ballots and to certify the election. If one side is unhappy with the results, legal action could follow.
Democrats have so far picked up seven Senate seats in this year's election, with the currently-Republican seats in Minnesota and Georgia still undecided. In Georgia, freshman Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss faces off in a runoff election on December 2 against Democrat Jim Martin, a former state lawmaker.
If the Democrats were to take both remaining undecided contests, they'll reach their pre-election goal of controlling 60 Senate seats, a filibuster-proof majority. A filibuster is a move by the minority party in the Senate that basically brings the chamber to a standstill by blocking votes on legislation.