November 26th, 2008
08:10 AM ET
5 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. Stacy from Loudoun County VA

    What happened to counting all ballots? Absentee ballots are not counted? Norm Coleman should be ashamed of himself.

    November 26, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. Todd C.

    Franken WILL be the winner!!!!

    November 26, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Scott Tucson

    Oh come on! lets give the senate seat to the wimp Franken, and show the nation what a one party system can do to us, at least for the next few years.

    November 26, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. JB

    CNN doesn't explain why they shouldn't be counted. Clearly they have an agenda to get Franken elected.

    Disparaging stuff is always explained in detail when it has to do with republicans. When it has to do with libs, its glossed over.

    Youtube how Obama got elected. CNN is directly repsonsible for this. Stop trying to manipulate the news. At least Hannity has a Colmes. At least it is an attempt. Brown and Wolf have nobody to dispute their biased viewpoints.

    November 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. Jeff Brown

    Coleman is a Bush stooge that needs to be tossed out the door!!!!!

    November 26, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    I'm hoping Franken wins, and wins by everything being done legally and correctly. If he doesn't, so be it.
    But, I absolutely want Chambliss, down in Georgia, to take a hike.

    November 26, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. V voter

    Looks like the Republicans and their army of lawyers want to steal yet another election.

    November 26, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. JB

    Why won't this go to moderator? I wonder.

    CNN doesn't explain why they shouldn't be counted. Clearly they have an agenda to get Franken elected.

    Disparaging stuff is always explained in detail when it has to do with republicans. When it has to do with libs, its glossed over.

    Youtube how Obama got elected. CNN is directly repsonsible for this. Stop trying to manipulate the news. At least Hannity has a Colmes. At least it is an attempt. Brown and Wolf have nobody to dispute their biased viewpoints.

    November 26, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. GM from MN

    I've heard so often from the GOP that the Dems were the ones trying to steal the elections from people.

    "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."

    So in a election seperated by a couple hundred votes, now the GOP doesn't want to count all the votes?

    November 26, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  10. Archie H.

    Frankens stuffed ballots I'll bet ! No one knows where they came from but you can guess!

    November 26, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  11. facts are facts

    It seems Coleman's main objective is to that all legitimate votes are not counted.

    The bottom line is all votes should be looked at and any that are legitimate need to be counted or the entire election is simply a farce with the voters being denied their right to choose who they want to represent them in the Senate.

    November 26, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Jim Doyle

    As always, the Republican fights to make sure votes are not counted, and the Democrat fights to make sure they are.

    And for those of you who deride Franken because he was a comedian (and a darn good one, by the way!) you obviously never listened to his political commentary on the radio, or read his books. The man speaks the truth from an intelligent and well thought out viewpoint. The fact that he has a sense of humor only adds to his qualifications. The people of Minnesota, and the entire country, will benefit by having him in the Senate. Go Al!

    November 26, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. Michael

    Coleman's quite the card. First, he declares victory. Then, he tries to guilt Franken into waving the recount. Then, he declares victory again. Now, he's moving heaven and earth to keep ballots from being counted. If you win, Norm, enjoy your second term. Because I don't think you're getting a third term.

    November 26, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. gt

    i smell a skunk,,,,, acorn ,,, and the cheats... are stealing another election

    November 26, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. Texas Teacher

    Every vote deserves to be counted. I think we are all tired of Republicans stealing elections, and we know that it happened in 2004.

    Chambliss is not related to the Governor of the state by chance? Just asking..... :)

    November 26, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  16. Steve, Madison WI

    Count ALL the votes – and then whoever has more votes wins! Any candidate that tries to suppress votes should be disqualified.

    November 26, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. Sanity has Returned

    Unreal. Most of the country can get their ballots counted on election night, but here is Minn who can't get a recount done in a few weeks? Well, they did vote in the wrestler Jesse Ventura as Gov. Geez Looks like Minisota has become the new florida.

    November 26, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. TyWebb

    Will Sarah Palin be there?

    November 26, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  19. A Kickin' Donkey

    This is America. Count all the votes. Period.

    If a bunch of lawyers try to explain away why we shouldn't count all the votes, they are UNPATRIOTIC and deserve to be dealt with by firing squad for treason. It's that serious.

    No more hiding behind a JD degree or barrister arrogance.

    November 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Chuck Pittsburgh

    I'm sure that these 6400 votes will give the election to Franken. The repubs just don't want them counted at all. Wonder why? Sounds like tampering to me! I'm sure Georgia will be in the same situation after their election. Wonder why? Already sounds like tampering to me!!.

    November 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. grahame

    Let's give Al Franken a boost. Let's get Sarah Palin in to accuse the Democrats of dirty tricks regarding the vote. That should just about finish Coleman Ha! It's Florida all over again only this time the tavbles are turned.

    November 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. ProgressiveDemocrat

    Count all the votes thats the honest thing to do.

    Coleman does not want absentee ballots counted I wonder why is it that he will lose the Senate seat if all the votes are counted .
    Al Franken will win if all the votes are counted.

    November 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. amused but happy in Vegas

    Is there any information on why the 6,400 ballots were disqualified? That seems like a lot of ballots.

    Were they provisional? Were they early and or mail-in?

    Did Mickey Mouse fill them all out?

    November 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. Los

    Why does it seem like every time I read about any kind of ballot dispute, it is always, always, always the GOP who is trying to make sure that ballots don't get counted?

    November 26, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. Michelle - San Francisco

    oh good. A turkey pardons another turkey

    November 26, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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