ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – Democrat Al Franken maintained his slim lead of 50 votes Tuesday as Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and the state canvassing board allocated the remainder of what was approximately 6,000 ballots that had - at one point or another - been challenged by both campaigns.
"If there are any nits to be picked, they've been picked," said board member and Minnesota State Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson as the board adjourned.
In a statement, Franken himself said, "As it appears that we're on track to win, I want Minnesotans to know that I'm ready to get to work for them in Washington on day one."
Coleman campaign attorney Tony Trimble called Franken's double digit lead "artificial" and maintained there is still a long way to go in the counting process, specifically because a large number of improperly rejected absentee ballots have yet to be tallied.
But the process is far from over. The battle over which absentee ballots should be included in the mix has the makings of a brutal fight.
As outlined by the State Supreme Court, both campaigns and local election officials must agree on the ballots that were improperly rejected before the canvassing board can open and count them. Ballots that are rejected improperly are typically done so due to a clerical error or something similar.
Local elections officials have come up with a list of about 1,350 ballots that they say were accidentally rejected. Franken campaign representatives have said all of those should be counted.
Coleman reps say only about half of those should be considered but they've also identified about 600 more ballots that they say were not tagged by local officials but that were also rejected in error. Coleman's Tony Trimble admitted many of these 600 are from Coleman heavy areas but maintained that was just "coincidence."
Based on the court's ruling, the campaigns must agree before anything can be counted or, according to their decision, sanctions would be leavened. Exactly what those sanctions may be remains to be seen. The deadline to hand those envelopes over to the board is this Friday, but there is some doubt over whether that will happen or not.
Ritchie said he hopes a result can be certified in a "timely" fashion. If his estimation holds accurate over the course of the week, a result could be certified as early as Monday evening, however, the board has also reserved time on Tuesday, January 6 to review the rejected ballots, as well. Incidentally, January 6 is the day the new Congress is set to be sworn in.
Another issue the Coleman campaign is focusing on is whether or not approximately 150 ballots were accidentally double counted. Trimble has maintained for weeks now that wrongly-handled duplicate ballots exist. The canvassing board decided it was not an issue that they as a body should consider. The State Supreme Court heard the Coleman arguments and did not grant them relief. The option is still on the table for further legal action.
Can a winner just be decared already? How long is this going to drag on? Enough's enough!
Seriously Norm Coleman, seriously? Two weeks ago there was no way that these absentee ballots should have been counted, but now you are behind.... I do think they should be counted no matter who is ahead but still.
And this, from the state that elected Jessie "The Body" Ventura as their govenor.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Ok people work with me here 1, 2, 3, etc. how hard can it be?
No one can sop me. From cheating.
Good for Franken. I admired that President Gore in 2000 felt the country was more important than him. But look at the shape we are in now because he did not fight it out. A warning about 9-11 per Richard Clarke was ignored and 9-11 happened while the thief is listening to 'my pet goat'. The crook friends have robbed this country blind and we have a messed up economy.
**Funny how some want to win with every vote for themselves to count. LOL
Coleman needs to weigh his own narcicism against the interests of the people of Minnesota to have a full representation in the new Congress.
Go Al !!!
Norm is Cheney's boy and needs to go.
Republicans Idiots never quit.
It never looks good when one side only wants to count a portion of the votes and the other side wants to include all of them.
Does anyone else find it ironic that out of all the ballots recounted only Franken is getting votes? You'd think they'd find votes for Coleman, but strange as it is only Franken is moving up in the tally. I've never in my life seen a recount where one person is getting all the votes. Usually its equal, and both parties lose and gain votes.
Guess every vote does count to Democrats even if you have to make those votes up.
Real simple... do a revote.... it would be cheaper...
amazingly enough, all local, county, and statewide races had zero problems or complaints in Minnesota except for this one...
dirty politics on both sides and we all know it...
Don't blame me, I voted for Hulk Hogan!
I want to hear Rush Limbaugh choke back the anger as he says "Senator Al Franken."
Stop the whining, Minnesota!!!!!! If you guys can elect a former pro-wrestler to be your governor, you can surely live with a comedian as your senator.
Chris from NC
wow....looks like it might have taken the dems almost two months....but they have surpressed enough of the voter's will that they could put this clown in office
Count all the votes! Did we not learn anything from Florida or Michigan? Votes should not be surpressed for political gain! Count the 600 Coleman wants and all the others. Let the people decide!
We will continue to count the votes.
Until I win.
Typical republicans trying to steal another seat. I guess stealing two presidential elections wasn't enough.
You go Al!! I can't stand the sight of Coleman and Paul Wellstone must have turned in his grave when Coleman won.....ugh! Let's have some competence, please.
Obviously, only the unopened Franken votes will be counted. That writing has been on the wall throughout this whole recount. If Coleman were to gain a lead from the unopened ballots, then of course more Franken ballots would mysteriously appear (again).
Al Franken and his comedic stand up routine will fit right in with a Democratically controlled congress with the lowest ever approval rating of something like 9%. Right on Al...I am sure he will help to raise their level of approval...right.
I guess Democrats don't mind corruption we their the ones doing it.