MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) – Democrat Al Franken is expected to hold a lead of 48 votes over incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, according to an ongoing tally kept by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and by Minnesota's state canvassing board, which is expected to release a formal announcement Tuesday morning confirming an early draft released by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office Sunday night.
Franken and Coleman are locked in a tight battle in the single remaining unresolved U.S. Senate race in the country.
The Franken campaign had predicted over the weekend that they'd come out on top by 35-50 votes.
In a statement, Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said, "Al Franken’s ‘lead’ is artificial and this process is still a long way from being complete," and that their campaign has "already identified some discrepancies" in the secretary of state's numbers.
The slim lead takes into account the approximately 1,400 challenges ballots the board reviewed by hand last week, as well as the roughly 5,000 ballots that had been challenged but were since withdrawn and remained to be allotted to either candidate. The number also does not include a few scattered but still unawarded outstanding ballot challenges.
Also still in the picture are improperly rejected absentee ballots, which could amount to roughly 1600 votes to factor into the mix. The State Supreme Court ruled Thursday that these ballots should not be counted unless both campaigns and local election officials can agree each ballot was rejected in error. No word yet on how this process will unravel.
The court is also expected to hear new arguments from the Coleman camp Tuesday afternoon surrounding their position that roughly 130 votes may have been counted twice due to improper sorting and labeling of duplicate ballots. Duplicates are created when an original ballot, for whatever reason, is unfit to be sent through a tabulation machine.
The Coleman campaign is pushing the issue of duplicate ballots more than anything else in the final days of the recount, claiming the secretary of state's totals are based on "votes that have been counted twice."
As the fight looks increasingly likely to continue into next year, another veteran of the 2000 Florida presidential recount has joined the Coleman team.
Coleman spokesman Mark Drake confirmed to CNN that veteran GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg, who served as national counsel to Bush/Cheney in 2000 and 2004 and was a key player in the Florida recount, is acting as an adviser to Coleman during the recount process.
Drake added that Ginsberg will not be arguing in court Tuesday. That job will still fall to Roger Magnuson, another Florida recount vet, who represented the state's legislature during the 2000 recount.
It is unclear when Ginsberg joined the Coleman team, and Drake did not know whether the lawyer would be in town Tuesday or Wednesday, the day the state supreme court hears new arguments from the Coleman camp over allegations that some ballots may have been double-counted.