December 23rd, 2008
06:59 AM ET
14 years ago

Franken maintains slim lead, as another recount vet arrives

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Franken holds a narrow edge over Norm Coleman as counting continues."]MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Democrat Al Franken is expected to hold a lead of 48 votes over incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, according to an ongoing tally kept by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and by Minnesota's state canvassing board, which is expected to release a formal announcement Tuesday morning confirming an early draft released by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office Sunday night.

Franken and Coleman are locked in a tight battle in the single remaining unresolved U.S. Senate race in the country.

The Franken campaign had predicted over the weekend that they'd come out on top by 35-50 votes.

In a statement, Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said, "Al Franken’s ‘lead’ is artificial and this process is still a long way from being complete," and that their campaign has "already identified some discrepancies" in the secretary of state's numbers.

The slim lead takes into account the approximately 1,400 challenges ballots the board reviewed by hand last week, as well as the roughly 5,000 ballots that had been challenged but were since withdrawn and remained to be allotted to either candidate. The number also does not include a few scattered but still unawarded outstanding ballot challenges.

Also still in the picture are improperly rejected absentee ballots, which could amount to roughly 1600 votes to factor into the mix. The State Supreme Court ruled Thursday that these ballots should not be counted unless both campaigns and local election officials can agree each ballot was rejected in error. No word yet on how this process will unravel.

The court is also expected to hear new arguments from the Coleman camp Tuesday afternoon surrounding their position that roughly 130 votes may have been counted twice due to improper sorting and labeling of duplicate ballots. Duplicates are created when an original ballot, for whatever reason, is unfit to be sent through a tabulation machine.

The Coleman campaign is pushing the issue of duplicate ballots more than anything else in the final days of the recount, claiming the secretary of state's totals are based on "votes that have been counted twice."

As the fight looks increasingly likely to continue into next year, another veteran of the 2000 Florida presidential recount has joined the Coleman team.

Coleman spokesman Mark Drake confirmed to CNN that veteran GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg, who served as national counsel to Bush/Cheney in 2000 and 2004 and was a key player in the Florida recount, is acting as an adviser to Coleman during the recount process.

Drake added that Ginsberg will not be arguing in court Tuesday. That job will still fall to Roger Magnuson, another Florida recount vet, who represented the state's legislature during the 2000 recount.

It is unclear when Ginsberg joined the Coleman team, and Drake did not know whether the lawyer would be in town Tuesday or Wednesday, the day the state supreme court hears new arguments from the Coleman camp over allegations that some ballots may have been double-counted.

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Ima Kidding

    These crazy liberals!!! They think that just 'cause somebody gets the most votes they're the one that should get elected. Rush and Sean are right – this country is going to h–l in a handbasket!!!!

    December 23, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  2. Steve

    This is a great case for an automatic runoff. No one will ever know the real winner of this race because of the anti-democratic tactics exercised by both sides. The fact that a coin flip will decide this race if it is tied is the most ridiculous law in the American political system. Just think: these two candidates spent tens of millions of dollars during the campaign and the subsequent recount fiasco and then a simple toss of a silver dollar will determine the state's representative for the next six years. This is democracy in action?

    December 23, 2008 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  3. WIlly Brown

    AL will never be respected in Congress, He'll only be looked at as a left wing kook voting tool.

    December 23, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  4. Thomas

    I am, once again, deeply concerned that an election is being decided by analyzing ballots of people too stupid to mark their ballots according to the simplest instructions.

    In my opinion, any ballot not marked in accordance to the instructions is an invalid ballot.

    December 23, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. Sharon Kitchen

    Now this figures......bush/cheney lawyer involved with this recount.
    Yep..................ready to steal yet another spot?

    December 23, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  6. Tony Scott

    So why are all these lawyers who helped Cheney steal 2000 rushing to advise how to steal from Franken? After all, even in Franken wins Dems only have 58. One of those is Liarberman, so there's no way a supermajority to prevent Reps blocking needed legislation – i.e. needed by people not lobbyists.

    Only reason I can think of – they are practicing for 2012, which will again be close enough to steal, as African-American turnout will be down. The Reps will have a candidate in Palin who, like Bush, is stupid enough to be entirely manipulable by her VP.

    December 23, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  7. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!





    December 23, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I'll believe it when it is over. Don't do any more postings until this is settled and over. This like a train wreck or car accident in slow motion. Just let me know the official word. Even if the Democrats win this one, there is no way that they will get 60 seats in the Senate. Even if they did, there wouldn't be a filabuster proof amount because Democrats allow more opinions than the Republicans who must be in lock step or be thrown out.

    December 23, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  9. Xavier

    Go Al! I know that republicans will soon start screaming bloody foul. They will holler about stealing the election. To them I say how does it feel to have the sins of your past (Bush) come back and hit you in the face like an old shoe?

    December 23, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  10. Kevin in Ohio

    There is so much inconsistency in the way the votes have been awarded, this HAS to turn around..... go to the Minnesota Secretary of State recount page and you can view all the actual ballots in question. Its unbelievable! Franken is plain stealing thias election. But that's par for the course for left-wing politics.

    December 23, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  11. carlo

    I feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather III: "Just when I thought I was out,, they pull me back in."

    December 23, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  12. carol

    I hope Franken wins, but I wish they would get it over and done with!!

    December 23, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  13. Whose a Democrat?

    Look at the picture of the ballot. Franken is a Democrat-Farmer-Labor.

    Wow, he's a triple threat.

    And I thought he was just a rich white man who doesn't know the difference between funny and mean.

    December 23, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  14. Charlie in Maine

    Colman needs Sandra Day O'conner. She really came through for W in 2000. Maybe she can make them stop the re-count cause you know "if you count them all the Democrat might win."

    December 23, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  15. Lori

    Good luck Al! America and the world hopes you win so the Republicans can keep dropping like flies.

    December 23, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. Jen in Raleigh

    For votes with less than a two percent margin, perhaps there ought to be a backup plan? Say an automatic runoff six weeks following the original poll? I pose two percent because in science, two percent is statistically insignificant, in other words, a tie.

    December 23, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  17. Russell Witt

    Why isn't the recount mess in Minnesota getting a bigger play at CNN? I know that CNN want's Franken, but does that mean putting such a spin on the factual news? When did editorial bias allow for factual stories to be so buried at CNN? I am being forced to turn to FOXNEWS more and more to get a real balance. You used to at least report the news.

    December 23, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  18. RP

    Unreal. Makes Florida look nice and clean. Win at any cost, even if it means distorting the will of the people. It's all about power and no tactic is off limits. I suggest new election laws. Life with no parole if violated? Afterall, what is more sacred than the honest elections to sustain our Republic.

    December 23, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  19. Kathy S. Cloughn

    Al Franken will make a great senator. he will win!

    December 23, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  20. Eric Carlson

    Go Al! Deal another blow to the politics of hate!

    December 23, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  21. abdul sobrie

    This has taken too long and may eventually create some mistrust and a doubt of fairness. They should have run off to bring an end to this and restore public confidence.

    December 23, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. bill

    I am an election weary conservative, with no great affection for Bush and admittedly still quite concerned about how far left the country can stretch itself before it breaks the cental tether we have always had as the country sways left to right.

    There was so much anger in all the last 12 months, Obama supporters against Hillary, Republicans portrayed as evil greedy war mongers with no concern for the planet, their kids, or the future.

    I just offer here, as someone married to a Democrat and that tries at least to be fair, that is this really the type of outcome you want in Minnesota, that this guy is who you want representing you in the US Senate.

    I get your infatuation with Obama and you willingness to vote for anyone to slap down George Bush, but does it really mean draggin along anyone who has a famous name or comedy routine that runs as a Democrat, is that what we want to become?

    Before the hate reaction comes to accuse the Republicans would do the same thing, I would not. I am from VA and voted for Mark Warner even thought I supported McCain for President.

    I caution the mindless following on both sides of the isle, and hope there is no dirty dealing to get this guy in a seat he seems to having alot of help finding votes to overturn the intitial results.

    December 23, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  23. patNY

    Is anyone surprised the republican is not accepting defeat, even though it is so clear he lost? He's probably surprised because he"s thinking, gee, I thought I paid those guys lots of money to rig the election in my favor to begin with?

    December 23, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. the caus

    keep bringing in the professionals from florida... they stole one election, they can steal another

    December 23, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Baze

    This is such b.s. Is Franken going to keep counting the votes until they come out in his favor?

    December 23, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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