November 26th, 2008
08:10 AM ET
3 months ago

Crucial Hearing Today in Minnesota Recount

The recount in Minnesota could stretch into December.
The recount in Minnesota could stretch into December.

(CNN) – A crucial hearing today in Minnesota could have a major impact on that state's recount of its Senate race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken.

The state's five member Canvassing Board, which oversees the recount, is meeting to decide how to deal with thousands of absentee ballots that are not included in the recount. Franken's campaign says the ballots were wrongly rejected, and that about 6,400 ballots were wrongly disqualified. Coleman's team says the board doesn't have the authority to include the disputed ballots in the recount.

The hearing comes as the number of ballots being challenged by both camps grows. Just over 80 percent of votes cast in the state’s Senate race have been recounted, in a process that could continue into next month.

Unofficial results from the November 4 election put Coleman, a freshman Republican senator, just 215 votes ahead of 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 progressive radio network Air America. The slim margin for Coleman, far less than one-half of one percent, triggered an automatic recount, the first time there's ever been a recount of a U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.

Election officials at 107 sites across Minnesota are in the middle of the long process of recounting all of the ballots, surrounded by election observers and lawyers from both campaigns, and the media.

The Secretary of State's office reports that 3,594 ballots have been challenged so far, with 1,836 questioned by Coleman's camp and 1,758 questioned by Franken's camp.

According to the Secretary of State's office, 80.62 percent of the more than 2.9 million votes cast in the election were recounted through yesterday. When comparing the new tallies with the results from November 4, it appears Coleman's 215 vote lead now stands at 238.

With the margin between Coleman and Franken remaining so close, the status of the ballots challenged during the recount and the disputed ballots that are not being counted could be crucial to the outcome of the recount.

Democrats have so far picked up seven Senate seats in this year's election, with the Republican seats in Minnesota and Georgia still undecided. In Georgia, freshman Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss faces off in a runoff election on December 2 against Democrat Jim Martin, a former state lawmaker.

If the Democrats take both remaining 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.


Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Mary, IN

    Sigh....I hope this doesn't go on forever. The country is waiting for a Democratic victory.

    November 26, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  2. Sean

    More people should have voted Barkley....

    November 26, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. Barbara in NC

    Every vote should be counted.

    November 26, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  4. roger, colorado

    Franken needs to hang it up. By the way I am a liberal Democrat. It is a shame that the Minn. Democratic party did not offer a stronger candidate. With Coleman winning by such a small margin, it is clear that a serious candidate, not a professional comedian, would have won the race comfortably.

    November 26, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  5. chuck

    The Republicans are again trying to upset the cart in Minnesota but it's not going to happen.Karl Rove 's tricks are outdated. Minnesota is a BLUE STATE.

    November 26, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. Larry

    Why were they wrongly disqualified to begin with ??? Al ,go back to being a joke,you're costing everybody a lot of time and money,and that isn't funny.

    November 26, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. Seattle Sue

    All votes should be counted if possible.

    November 26, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  8. james

    On what grounds ?????

    November 26, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. vic

    Count them all!

    November 26, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Phil in KC

    We really need to do something about the voting system in this country. It's getting ridiculous.
    First, I think we need to federalize and standardize any election with national office implications.
    We need to go to electronic voting. There needs to be some type of audit process, to be sure. And it should be tamper-proof. But it should not take over a month past election day to determine the results. Initial results should be almost instantaneous.
    We need a more effective way for absentee ballots to be cast and counted. I'm not a big fan of casting one's vote over the internet; there are too many opportunities for error and contamination. But traditional paper ballots, evidently, are not the answer either. It needs to be idiot-proof, quickly counted and leave no question as to the intent of the person casting the ballot. Similarly, if more scrutiny is paid when absentee ballots are mailed out, there should not be any questions when those ballots are received back in.

    November 26, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  11. Al, NY NY

    all should be counted, and dispute them if you must. Keep it up Minnesota. Hoping to hear Shammity and especially OReilly say "Senator Franken" just to tee them off!!

    November 26, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  12. Wood

    Go FRANKEN!

    November 26, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  13. lovable liberal

    Again, the Republican wants a technicality to make it impossible to count votes that could be legitimate. Shouldn't these votes be reviewed to determine whether they are legal votes? Coleman says, No, you don't have jurisdiction.

    November 26, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. Bruce

    Whatever happened to counting every ballot?
    Seems like an attempt to not allow every vote to count and steal an election.

    November 26, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. RobK

    Typical. Republicans like to play by the rules. Democrats don't think the rules should be followed if they are contrary to their ideas of fairness.

    November 26, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Maggie

    Okay, it's pretty simple.
    Let's all say it together.

    1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10...

    See? Counting's easy!

    November 26, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  17. Glenn Doty

    The 238 number is an absolute farce.

    Both campaigns have been frivolously challenging ballots left and right, but the Coleman campaign has been challenging more ballots that were accepted by the judges as a ballot for Franken... while the Franken campaign has been challenging more votes that the judges ruled that "no voter intent can be interpreted".

    Therefore, the ballots that Coleman challenge result in a legitimate vote for Franken being temporarily reduced, while the ballots that Franken challenge are currently no-votes, and Franken wants them to be Franken votes.

    Since Minnesota law has a strong bias towards interpreting voter intent... it is more likely that the challenges of no-votes to interpreted votes will be accepted than the challenges of ballots that the voter intent has been judged to be clear.

    If all ballots are rejected at large, the actual split is ~80 votes. But I'll bet Franken wins more challenges than Coleman.

    November 26, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  18. Truth Hurts

    If there is going to be a recount, then all the ballots need to be viewed fairly, including the rejected ones. Who knows why the ballots was rejected in the first place. The conservatives are always acusing others of cheating when they are the Kings of that!!

    November 26, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Jim Hall

    ALL VOTES SHOULD BE COUNTED. THAT IS HOW I READ THE CONSITITUTION AND BILL OF RIGHTS. THAT IS UNLESS THE VILLAGE IDIOT THAT IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE NOW HAS DONE AWAY WITH THE REST OF OUR RIGHTS AND HE PROBABLY HAS. I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT OBAMA IS DOING SO GOOD NOW AND HIS APPROVAL RATEING OF HIS NOMINEES TO VARIOUS MEMBERS OF HIS CABINET ARE SKY ROCKETING THAT THE CURRENT VILLAGE IDIOT AND HIS CRONIES SHOULD LEAVE THE WHITE HOUSE BEFORE THE 20TH OF JANUARY 2009 SO THAT OBAMA AND HIS TEAM CAN START TO TURN THIS HORIFFIC MESS AROUND. THERE IS AN OLD SAYING THE SOONER THE BETTER JIM HALL KANSAS CITY MISSOURI.

    November 26, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. The Pecan State Pundit

    I don't like it when a candidate in a close election argues that certain ballots should not be counted or even looked at.

    If a group is charged with recounting votes, then they must look at and evaluate all ballots. They can later conclude that the ballots were rightly rejected. Perhaps the voter voted in the wrong precinct or was not registered and the ballots should not count. Let the recounters get on with the job of recounting.

    America was flim-flammed in 2000 in Florida. How much better the nation and the world would be today if Gore had become President. However five Republican Party hacks on the Federal Supreme Court ordered a Florida court to stop counting Florida ballots (so much for states' rights).

    Now, 8 years later, our local governments have done nothing to improve the accuracy of our vote counting.

    November 26, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. Phil-Little Rock

    I hope they get to 60 seats. Then, they can tell Joe Lieberman what they REALLY think of him.

    November 26, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. pat huntington ny

    A double edged sword –

    Pro – if Franken wins the recount, the Dems gain another seat in the Senate.

    Con – if Franken wins the recount, Franken becomes US senator.

    November 26, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. J.Crobuzon

    Can we just flip a coin or something?

    November 26, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. katiec

    What a mess. Imagine the people of Minnesota are embarressed and fed up with all of this.
    Any legitimate vote should be counted. Not whether an i is dotted.
    I hope by the next election we will have a legitimate, credible
    voting system in place that cannot be questioned by either
    party,

    November 26, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  25. Mickie

    OMG, can we just toss a coin. Obviously, Minnesotans can't even seem to do a recount in a reasonable time. Maybe the cold weather up there freezes their brains. There's got to be a better way for our voting system and not just in Minnesota.

    November 26, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
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