(CNN) - Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's unofficial lead over Democrat Al Franken shrank to five votes as a Minnesota Canvassing Board continued analyzing ballots from the November 4 Senate election, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Friday.
About 3 million votes were cast in the election, and the close result tripped an automatic recount.
Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" comedian and writer, gained several hundred votes Thursday night as the board ruled on ballot challenges from both sides, the newspaper reported.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) – Minnesota's Supreme Court Thursday barred officials from including rejected absentee ballots in the recount of the state's hotly contested U.S. Senate race unless both of the candidates and elections officials agree the ballot was improperly rejected.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and former Air America talk show host Al Franken are caught up in a fiercely fought battle over the recount of ballots from the November 4 election.
Coleman had filed suit to stop the recount of thousands of rejected absentee ballots until a "uniform" process for reviewing the ballots can be devised.
Instead of halting the recount, the court ruled that local elections officials "lack the statutory authority to count" rejected ballots on their own but can do so if they and the candidates all agree that a ballot was rejected in error.
Updated 7:38 p.m.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is quietly prepping for the possibility of a temporary Senate appointment, given the increasing likelihood the nation's lone unresolved Senate contest might not officially come to a close before Congress convenes again next month.
As the contentious Senate recount of the race between Republican Norm Coleman and Al Franken stretches more than six weeks past Election Day, the Republican governor's spokesman Brian McClung told CNN that the governor's office has asked the general counsel to Gov. Pawlenty "to begin looking into... what might trigger the need for a gubernatorial appointment to the U.S. Senate."
There is no word yet on who, if anyone, might be under consideration for a temporary Senate seat if a winner is not declared by the congressional swearing-in date of January 6.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said after a long day of reviewing more challenged ballots Wednesday that a certification of recount results in the race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken in Minnesota's Senate race would not be released until next week, assuming the review of challenged ballots ends on Friday.
But a few unresolved issues still remain. One is the question over what to do with improperly rejected absentee ballots: The state canvassing board-the entity of judges, along with Ritchie, charged with overseeing the recount-has asked for counties to begin the process of reviewing and counting those. However, the Coleman campaign has said there is no "uniform" method for doing so.
Wednesday, the state Supreme Court heard the Coleman team's arguments and said a decision is "forthcoming."
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – A Minnesota justice hearing arguments from attorneys facing off in the year's last remaining Senate contest told a legal veteran of the 2000 presidential recount that his state is "not Florida."
Attorneys for both Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken presented their sides before the Minnesota Supreme Court Wednesday.
Speaking for Coleman before the panel of justices was attorney Roger Magnuson, no stranger to recount battles, who represented the Florida's state senate in Bush v. Gore.
If the state’s canvassing board includes any of the "improperly rejected absentee ballots" at the heart of the dispute, warned Magnuson, this race could easily turn into the debacle that ensued in Florida eight years ago.
He was immediately interrupted by Associate Justice Paul Anderson, who appeared to take serious issue with the analogy.
“I know you’ve been to Florida,” Anderson said. “This is not Florida. And I’m just not terribly receptive to you telling us that we’re going to Florida and we’re comparing to that. This is Minnesota. We’ve got a case in Minnesota. Argue the case in Minnesota.”
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - Their self-imposed deadline was this Friday. But the panel weighing disputed ballots in the year's lone unresolved Senate race now faces an end date as uncertain as that vote's outcome.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and the four other members of the state's canvassing board resumed their deliberation over challenged ballots Wednesday morning, as the race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken remains too close to call.