November 24th, 2008
09:00 AM ET
13 years ago

Number of challenged ballots growing in MN Senate recount

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The recount in Minnesota could stretch into December."](CNN) – As the Senate recount resumes this morning in Minnesota, the number of ballots being challenged is growing. Nearly two-thirds of the votes have been recounted in the battle for incumbent Republican Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate seat.

The recount, which began last Wednesday, could extend into next month.

Unofficial results from the November 4 election put Coleman, a freshman senator, just a few hundred votes ahead of his Democratic challenger, Al Franken, known across the country from his days on Saturday Night Live and from his years as a talk show host on Air America, the progressive radio network. The slim margin for Coleman, far less than one half of 1 percent, triggered an automatic recount, the first time there's ever been a recount of a U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.

Now election officials are in the middle of the long process of recounting all of the ballots at 107 sites across Minnesota, surrounded by election observers and lawyers from both campaigns, and the media.

The Secretary of State's office reports nearly 2,000 ballots have been challenged so far, with 948 questioned by Coleman's camp and 945 by Franken's.

According to the Secretary of State's office, 65.65 percent of the more than 2.9 million votes cast in the election were recounted through the weekend. Coleman's vote today is down 669 votes and Franken's down 621 votes.

The process could extend well into December. The recount sites across Minnesota have a deadline of the first week of December to report their results. After that, the state's canvassing board meets to rule on disputed ballots and to certify the election. If one side is unhappy with the results, legal action could follow.

Democrats have so far picked up seven Senate seats in this year's election, with the currently-Republican seats in Minnesota and Georgia still undecided. In Georgia, freshman Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss faces off in a runoff election on December 2 against Democrat Jim Martin, a former state lawmaker.

If the Democrats were to take both remaining undecided contests, they'll reach their pre-election goal of controlling 60 Senate seats, a filibuster-proof majority. A filibuster is a move by the minority party in the Senate that basically brings the chamber to a standstill by blocking votes on legislation.

Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Matt B

    "IF every vote is counted, Franken will win.
    Why? Because Obama-Biden beat the know-nothing team by 11%.

    Do the math."

    TT – you obviously weren't all that great at math. The variables are not constant. Independents could easily vote for Obama, where he vowed to be a moderate and work with both sides of the aisle, and not for Franken who is flat out crazy. Not all that difficult to imagine, so please redo your math.

    November 24, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Ray jay

    There should be only someny poeple in the room and not be able to release info about what is going on in the counting rooms. Get every one not counting outof the erea until completed,
    Poeple at least do recounts with dignaty and honesty.

    November 24, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Bill

    Lets just throw Minnesota out with the trash. From a wrestler gov. to a "comedian" senator and the word comedian is a stretch.

    November 24, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    The Franken Monster LIVES!

    November 24, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Gregory

    Voters intentions???? If not readily discernible it should be tossed out; if you get too far into it psychics might be better prepared to tell us what someone meant. Intentions....that's a good one

    November 24, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. zgomer

    Cloeman will win and you morons in MN will be out of luck by not having a so called comedian in office, you should be ashamed of yourself to even considering a moron like Franken.

    November 24, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Christopher, Madison, WI

    ACORN has nothing to do with any of this. Did anyone see Mickey or Minnie Mouse voting? There is a huge difference between voter registration fraud and actual voter fraud. BTW ACORN brought the bogus registrations to the attention of the appropriate authority. FauxNoise simply did not report that. Can all you Bushies and neo-cons please go back over to FauxNoise and leave the real discussions to the adults (Democrats).
    If Bush really won the recount in it because ManCoulter voted twice? 2004 revealed that 2 persons in Cuyahoga County Ohio went to jail for voter fraud. Blackwell's cronies. If I recall correctly, that was the county that handed the election to Bush. Cheaters, cheaters, cheaters. Al Franken will win fair and square and the righties can't stand it!

    November 24, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. ML

    I left Minnesota because I consider it to be a fascist state, mostly under the republican governor. I am not surprised, then to see Republicans trying to steal the election.

    November 24, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. facts are facts

    CNN I posted a true statement about Nate Silver predicting that Franken will win by 27 votes which should be something to consider since he was dead on with his predictions on the election through his informed calculations.

    Why did you not post this or is it that you just can't abide the truth?

    November 24, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. Bill

    I hope Franken wins. The republicans have proven that they are completely inept at governing. Everything that has happened up to this point is the fault of neo conservatism. Its so sad that my generation's future has been robbed by the republican party. The only thing that is looking up for my generation is the complete destruction of the GOP.

    November 24, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. John I

    In response to the comment "it is really sad a state is so inept it cannot hold an election"...There is nothing wrong with the way the recount is going. It was just a very close election. After the initial count, Coleman was up a measly 215 votes out of 2.9 million cast. State law requires a mandatory recount for races decided by less than .5%. This race was a lot closer than .5% so a recount is being done to ensure the right candidate is sent to Washington to represent the wonderful state of Minnesota. Besides, Minnesota's electoral system is one of the best in the country, by using optical scanners they don't have to deal with all the issues caused by punch hole or e-ballots. Get with it, although it sucks to see this drag on, it is only being done to ensure the integrity of the system.

    November 24, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. paul (staunch Moderate)

    I seem to recall reading (somewhere) that Coleman was a Democrat and switched party affiliation. If that is the case, wouldn't he qualify as a Centrist, or Moderate? And that wouldn't be so terrible. What we need is some Common Sense in our government representatives rather than folks who blindly vote along party lines.

    November 24, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  13. Liberal Barry

    The fact is that our election system in this country is not refined enough for elections that are this close. Take it from a Broward County Florida resident.

    I think that our national election officials should meet with the producers of American Idol. Perhaps they can give our election officals some tips an how to accurately count votes in a reasonable timeframe.

    November 24, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. ben

    Bill: It is really great that a state is competent enough to do a recount. The vote margin triggered the recount (by state law), not partisan claptrap of a biased sec'y of state (see Katherine Harris). This is how democracy works well.

    November 24, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. BJ

    You would think the people of MN would have learned after Jesse Ventura...

    November 24, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. sargerator

    To the 2 fools below that commented that Bush won on "3 recounts" ???? You listen to Rush too much . The recount was halted by Daddy Bushes henchman and former Sec. of State Baker who stood in front of the US Supreme Court and claimed it wouldn't be fair to recount the votes in one County because then other counties would miss out by not having their votes recounted ??? Fits perfect with the mentality of the Gdbya admin. So, again, THERE NEVER WAS A FULL RECOUNT IN THE 2000 ELECTION AS FAR AS FLORIDA IS CONCERNED. (Sorry for yelling but...) Look it up you two fools, the US Supreme court overruled the Florida Supreme Court and ordered a halt to the recount and as of today Gore still leads in the recount by 10's of thousands... And by the way I won't get over it , THE ELECTIONS WERE STOLEN !!!!

    November 24, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. MBFLA

    Thank goodness this is happening somewhere other than Florida!!!!

    Go Al!

    November 24, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    I agree with Kyle. Neither of these fools really care about the People of Minnesota, they just want to make their parties happy. I didn't vote for either of the morons....I voted libertarian for the senate! Trust me people, it doesn't matter who wins...they are both crazy.
    Oh and FYI
    Cole man Killed Wellstone!

    November 24, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. bcshow

    As someone who lived in Minnesota for twenty-some years, I can safely say that as bad as anyone thinks Franken is, Coleman is worse. I watched every smarmy step of his political career in the state, and if he loses I will rejoice.

    November 24, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. History Guy

    "Too bad we can't get a decent comedian to run for Senator in Texas…"

    We already got our comedian from Texas. Unfortunately, he was unintentionally comedic, and it was not "ha ha" funny, but rather "car-crash, its so bad I don't want to look at it, but I can't help but wonder how much he'll screw this up."

    November 24, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. james

    One can just imagine how many lawyers are waiting in the wings. There is a LOT at stake.

    November 24, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Michael M. Noonan

    It would be unfair of me to judge Minnessotans, since my state, at least one overwhelmingly predominantly African American district just reelected Dollar Bill Jefferson (he of the $90,000 in his freezer fame), but Al Franken. The man's an obscenity.

    November 24, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Beth

    Guys stop freaking out... it will take as long as it takes to get the job done well. As a Minnesotan I'll tell you that part of the reason it's so close (though the Presidental race wasn't) is that people don't necessarily vote straight party (oh the novelty of THINKING). For example... for President, Senator and Representative I voted for 2 Democrats and a Republican... no I won't tell you who exactly I voted for.

    November 24, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Charlotte

    So many incredibly puerile and childish posts here, full of vindictive hate and name-calling. Hey, juveniles, whatever you think of Minnesota and either of the candidates, keep your unworthy filth to yourselves and let the recount finish up. If you are not a Minnesotan – or if you are one but didn't vote – you are absolutely not entitled to an opinion one way or another. Just shut up and mind your own business. Sounds to me like Minnesota is obeying the law and taking the time to do it right – whatever the outcome. If you can't live with that then YOU are a loser...whatever the outcome for your preferred candidate.

    November 24, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Vicki5

    I would really like to see the democrats get a 60 majority. Tell me how it does any good to have an equally balanced congress with only two parties/sides. It amounts to GETTING NOTHING DONE. If one side can stop progress on anything they want, then the republicans will finish off our country rather than swallow their pride and vote for what the majority of the people want. I don't get it. Isn't there another way around a filabuster?

    November 24, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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