December 30th, 2008
01:11 PM ET
9 years ago

Franken leads but fighting lingers in Minnesota recount

Franken holds a narrow edge over Norm Coleman as counting continues.

Franken holds a narrow edge over Norm Coleman as counting continues.

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.

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. deb in Colo

    Time to flip the coin, I think...

    December 30, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Jo Doe

    Adding Franken to the Democrat-controlled congress is like adding an explanation point to a bad joke. What a fitting end to this election cycle!

    December 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Chris

    If the picture with this article is real, then that vote should not be counted - that ballot is improperly marked. If one is too lazy to figure out how to vote correctly, they don't deserve to be heard no matter how much Al Franken whines.

    December 30, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Ilona Hussein Proud Canadian

    Jim Barnes


    These specific ballots are from areas where AL FRANKIN HAS STRONGER SUPPORT THAN COLEMAN!


    December 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Mark

    Recount every one of them from the beginning and include all,... so we have a winner. I am tired of people saying Bush stole an election he won, let's recount every one of these so Dems will quit whining,... oh wait they still will since someone will have something they don't have,... reminds me of a 4 year old whining about what another kid has

    December 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Joe

    Hey Jennifer from NY, Al Franken is competent. Maybe we ought to examine your IQ.

    December 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. gt

    ha ha haha .....this will last longer than a minneosta winter,,,,,i hope al wins ,,, what a joke ,,,, minnesota you people have cabin fever ,,, wait till you get frankens calander with his mug on it for you people to look at all next winter ,,,,,

    December 30, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Mike O'Brien

    Al Franken.., 'don't give up !! You would be great in the United States States Senate. Mike In Montana

    December 30, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. Jason

    Chris the ballot should be counted. Minnesota law is clear that the only thing that matters is a voters "intent". I think that is obvious.

    December 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  10. EW

    Morgan December 30th, 2008 2:56 pm ET

    Count all the votes!

    Yes, we must not discriminate against the dead and ineligible, shall we? The Democrat party is the party of the living and the dead....just ask Chicago Mayor Daley.

    If you can't follow simple instructions, like fill in the circle, then too bad. If you make a mistake ask for a new ballot. Voting isn't rocket science yet so many people seem to not be able to handle this simple task.

    December 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. lois

    Al is joke incompetent even he is not funny comedian losser thats why he want run see the earmark on the way

    December 30, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. Al, NY NY

    Chris December 30th, 2008 2:53 pm ET
    I want to hear Rush Limbaugh choke back the anger as he says "Senator Al Franken."

    AND that faux "libertarian" O'Reilly too! He is just another Fake News GOP shill just like the rest. A few token non-republicans does not make them fair and balanced.

    December 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. ken

    What truly amazes me is that there are so many people that are voting and do not even know how to mark the ballot. I think that any ballots that are marked incorrectly should be thrown in the trash and NOT counted, PERIOD!

    It is not that hard to fill out a ballot to begin with, and I don't understand those people that don't know how, don't ask for help filling them out correctly. Does this say something about our education?

    December 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Greg Hodges

    No matter who wins after the recount; the loser will feel cheated; and so will his supporters. I know it is very expensive and difficult; but the only way to really clean up this mess is to have a runoff; as they did in Georgia with only Franken and Coleman on the ballot. Vote for the one you want;surely you can make a simple x; and then let us move on.This just adds to the growing bitterness on both sides. If a simple straight up and down vote is impossible in any state in America these days, the U.S. is even more messed up than I thought.

    December 30, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Viet Vet

    Cry on Repub's !!!Har, har, Har Har, haaaaaaaaa
    How's it feel Minnesotans who still drink shrub's koolaid?
    Steal that election, Al!!!!!!!!!HA, ha, ha harrrrrrrrrrrrr.ROLFLMFAO

    December 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Proud American

    Al Frankenstein Who let this Idiot out of the basement?

    December 30, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  17. John, Rochester MN

    Greg December 30th, 2008 2:56 pm ET

    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
    Interesting thought. Suppressing the voters' will and getting Franken into the Senate in the same sentence. Actually, if you look at the election results, the voters' will was/is to not have Coleman back in there. When an incumbent has 57%+ vote against him, it's clear the people don't want him in there. If either Franken was the incumbent, or the third party candidate was a failed Republican candidate, then your thought would be more likely true, but in this case, we really really really don't like Coleman and we don't want him in.

    December 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Mikey M

    I'm Proud of You Al Franken. You didn't sit back and allow the Republicans to disenfranchise Minnesota Democrats. Every vote deserves to be counted, despite some of the events of very recent history in this country.

    December 30, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. Will-South Dakota

    This should be a made for TV movie!

    December 30, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. cat

    If Coleman does not believe in government and improvement in the ways that government works to serve yes serve we the people.
    He needs to go...Capitolism is a chain around poor peoples necks.
    Price increases in order to beat last years sales, creates hardships on the majority of the people. Open your eyes and stop agreeing w/ the rich mans point of view...It will not work for you only for them who's got.

    December 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. tmess

    Chris, under Minnesota law, an "X" in an oval is a more valid vote than filling in the oval.

    As to the person who claimed only Franken gained votes, the Minnesota Secretary of States website has the inital totals from the machine count while the Star Tribune has the count after today's meeting resolved the last challenges. Based on that, Coleman has gained 302 votes during the recount. So it's not that Coleman hasn't gained votes, it's that Franken gained more votes than Coleman did. Obviously during a recount, both candidates gain votes that the machine erroneously considered to be an overvote or an undervote and lose votes that the machine erroneously considered to be for them. One candidate is going to have a larger net swing than the other candidate, but that is just how applying the law instead of a simple computer program works.

    December 30, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. JM

    Frankin and his cronies are determined to steal this election.

    December 30, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. bill

    Now it is crystal clear, Arnold the governor in Calif., Franken in the senate what's next , J LO as the NY senator. I love how the Dems keep pushing the every vote counts despite how idiots can't fill out a ballot most 5 year olds could complete and Republicans keep trying to tie things up in court. When are the people going to wake up and realize that nothing will get better until we have a viable 3rd party that represents the majority of us in the middle.

    December 30, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. Kerry

    "lois December 30th, 2008 3:43 pm ET

    Al is joke incompetent even he is not funny comedian losser thats why he want run see the earmark on the way"

    Did someone post this as a joke or is this "lois" person have the worst grammar skills in the entire US of A?

    December 30, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Jane (Minnesota)

    As I understand it the 4 reasons to disqualify a ballot in this state are pretty clear. Come on guys, if the ballots do not meet any of the 4 reasons – they count -- PERIOD!!! This is NOT rocket science!!! Stop the stone-walling & let's get this over & move on.

    December 30, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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