(CNN) – A three-judge Minnesota court ruled Tuesday that approximately 4,800 out of a total of nearly 12,000 rejected absentee ballots would be considered in Republican Norm Coleman's effort to retain his Senate seat.
"This is a victory for thousands of Minnesotans whose rejected absentee ballots will now be properly reviewed in this election," Ben Ginsberg, a legal spokesman for the Coleman campaign said in a statement released Tuesday. "We've continually called for every valid vote to be counted, and counted only once. This is a strong step in the right direction, and we applaud the decision of the court today."
The Franken campaign said the ruling brought some certainty to the litigation to determine who will be declared the winner in the razor-thin race.
The "universe [of Coleman's case] has now come to a defined place," Franken attorney Marc Elias said in a statement Tuesday. "We now know the scope of ballots they will be permitted to argue from."
On Election Night, Coleman held a slim lead of a few hundred votes over Democrat Al Franken in a race where 3 million votes were cast. But after the recount that followed, the state canvassing board declared Franken the winner by 225 votes.
The Coleman team argues that a number of absentee ballots had been incorrectly counted or rejected by the canvassing board, and filed a post election contest before the three-judge court. Coleman is also arguing that some votes were counted twice.
The court ruled today on a Franken motion to limit the number of rejected absentee ballots to fewer than 700, rather than the roughly 12,000 requested by the Coleman camp.
The Franken campaign is set to ask the Minnesota Supreme Court on February 5 to order Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to issue a temporary election certificate so Franken can be seated in the Senate. Both men have refused, saying they will wait until the matter is resolved definitively by the courts.
Coleman's problem is that his lawyers have argued every different and even opposite side of the Rubik's cube since election day. First they didn't want votes counted, then they wanted only certain votes counted, then they didn't want any votes counted, then they wanted all votes counted, now they're back to wanting just certain votes counted. If I were the judges, I throw them out of court with the admonition: "Next time you want to argue a case, pick a side and stick with it. Now begone."
The biggest loser here is the state of Minnesota. They are currently being under-represented in the senate because the Republicans refuse to let the election go. While every vote should be counted, they should at least temporarily certify the results so that Minnesota has equal representation in the senate.