(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.
Is there a reason why there are some ballots are being counted? Was there a reason why the ballots weren't counted before? They have to find these missing ones. Otherwise I would say they should do what Florida should have done - the whole state revote on the one race.
Does it not bother people in Minnesota who voted absentee to think that perhaps your ballot is NOT being counted?? I would be raising cain right now.
Sure makes me wonder if my absentee ballot in Fort Worth, Texas REALLY got counted or not- especially since most of our county is run by died in the wool far far far right Republicans.
Send Franken back to the comedy circuit. We don't need to make the democrats any more of a joke than they already are.
Geez, why don't they just have a run-off already? Save us all some time and trouble!
Regardless of who the winner is, this is ridiculous. There should be a no-whining, act like an adult rule which would ultimately disqualify both of them and hand the contest to the third party candidate, Barkley.
Barkley would be better than either of these partisan hacks and the country would be better off as a result.
I don't believe either of these two really want to be a public servant, it's all about power and money. Franken's a loud mouth that thinks he should be responsible for implementing the Screen Actor's Guild agenda and rally against anything traditional, he the penultimate anti-establishment character.
Coleman is a former Democrat who is now a Republican, this guy can't make up his mind just sway which ever way the wind is blowing.
There should be a get-over-it-already rule that gets rid of the first guy to lawyer up.
The best way to solve all of this crap is to institute a lottery for these seats and just pick any registered voter with at least a GED. Look where the "professionals" have taken this country over the last 40 years.
The law clearly states perimeters set up for Absentee ballots. If they fail to meet those standards, then they can't be counted. In the last election, there were military ballots from overseas that the Democrats didn't want counted and due to the requirements, failed to meet the standards and were not counted. Minnesota must follow the law.
I love the idiot Repubs blabbering about ACORN as they attempt to suppress voter turnout, but really, this should be settled Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton style.
It doesn't matter if Al Franken wins or loses, just count the votes. Don't let others feel it is a waist of time to do absentee ballots and then they not be counted. The Republicans really need to wake up and rethink their ideas, they look as if they are fading, and fading fast – as they should!
Umm perhaps GOP are always the ones getting the ballots thrown out because the Dem's are the always the ones placing the fraudulent votes...?
We have laws that require ballots to be rejected if they don't meet the standards of those laws. If they do meet them, they must be counted. If they were rejected for cause, they cannot and should not be counted.
So what's Franken going to be yelling about this time.
And to V voter November 26th, 2008 10:18 am ET – No, Franken's the one stealing the election. He couldn't cut it as a radio host, he's past his prime as a comedian, his trying to steal this seat is yet another example of a pathetic human being. He is bitter, and holds views that would even make Stalin say "Whoa, tone it down there pal." What would be best for Minnesota and America would be for him to lose and just fade into oblivion, making insane rants like Chevy Chase.
count all the votes and make it right and i hope franken wins and we get rid of the nazi coleman
This smells funny. Amazing all the votes are in Franken's favor. Who got paid for votes??????? Franken is a rude, loud mouth idiot! I don't care about the parties that rule, i just want it to be fair. Thugs at it again!
You know, my bank's ATM has never messed up, and is very good at counting things-money. Why is it SO hard to get an ATM voter machine that would register and count all votes instantaneously?
This thing about "voter intent" is bogus. If a voter can't read directions and fill out the ballot correctly, their vote SHOULD be void. I don't want anyone interpreting my ballot. Say for example I put an X in the bubble for a candidate and left the other blank: what was my intent.? Well, I intended to cross out the one candidate so that my vote is for the one with the open bubble... Point is, we shouldn't be "interpreting" ballots.
Democrats want all legal votes counted. Republicans look for any possible way to exclude ballots if they think those ballots are against them.
Oh for the love of Mike, give it up Coleman. If you win you will be on the losing side of the aisle anyway. We need new blood in Congress and the Senate. The more 'old boys' that aren't there the more progress will be made. Al Franken!!!
While the disputed votes may be in question, there is no question that the 6,400 absentee votes should be counted.
Every American has the right to vote either in person or by absentee.
Go Franken go all the way to Washington!
More DemoBrats and Rethuglicans at work. These two parties must go. It's pretty clear that both just have their interests in mind...forget about us. Coleman will be for more bailouts and Franken will take away union voter anonymity...heck he cant even pay his own taxes.
Why do you all keep voting for the two parties that have put us in the economic problems that we are in? It's not the fault of one or the other It's both of them!!!! Stop voting for these two!!!!
Really?! Count every vote? Even if someone votes more than once? Even if the person has been dead for a year? Even if the person is not a US citizen? Even if the person is 6 months old? Even if the signature does not match the registration? Perhaps you meant count every valid vote?
Another useless spineless Democrat that's poor loser...what a baby...
A: Hey there's a rejected ballot!
B: why was it rejected?
A: no bubbles filled, only a large coffee cup stain crescent on the ballot.
B: hey, that vote should be counted!!!
A: what vote?
B: the one on the ballot...
A: the STAIN?
B: let me see it...oh, its obvious, the bleed throough from the back clearly indicates that it was closer to Franken. Put it in the Franken Pile.
B: ah, my work is done....
Phil-Little Rock November 26th, 2008 9:56 am ET
I hope they get to 60 seats. Then, they can tell Joe Lieberman what they REALLY think of him.
The 60 would INCLUDE Joe Lieberman....
S.B. Stein E.B. NJ November 26th, 2008 11:08 am ET
Is there a reason why there are some ballots are being counted? Was there a reason why the ballots weren't counted before?
Absentee ballots and the Provisional ballots are never counted unless there is a close count; normally elections are won by a large enough margin that those types of ballots would not affect the outcome of the election. In this case both Provisional and Absentee votes COULD change the winner of the election.
I prefer Franken but it really doesn't matter at this point.
I just don't understand why the right wingers on this blog are foaming at the mouth. Shouldn't everyone's vote count? Isn't that a basic right?
What are you guys afraid of now?
Coleman has been ahead the whole time since election night and now Franken is coming in like the weasel he is and trying to steal the election. By the way Al, Rush can lose weight but you are just plain ugly.