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the board reviewed by hand last week, as well as the roughly 5,000 ballots that had been challenged but were since withdrawn and remained to be allotted to either candidate.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. Go Al!

    That's right. And John McCain had Obama "right where he wanted them" a week before the election. This is loser-speak if I've ever heard it.

    December 23, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Paul Thompson

    No Shame in business, politics, banking.

    Where are we headed?

    December 23, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. Dave, Illinois

    I read that some ballots may have been counted twice? Good Lord, hold another election. Whoever wins the recount will not be legitimate to half the voters.

    December 23, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Larry

    Al,you've gotta be kiddin me !!!

    December 23, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. former republican

    I hope Al Franken wins.

    Norm colemans is a slimeball that followed the failed policies of bush. throw the bum out !

    December 23, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  6. email4kh

    Coleman's people are saying that some Franken votes were counted TWICE?

    That's kinda pathetic. Tell your supporters to grow up, Norm.
    You lost.

    December 23, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. Rick

    Looking more like the 2004 Governor's election in Washington, where the counting was done until the Dem finally got ahead by 10 votes and the overvotes (more votes than registered voters) in heavily Dem areas were part of the count.

    December 23, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. RealityKing

    Apparently Minnesota is full of morons that can't follow or don't care about pre-defined directions..

    December 23, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  9. lindsey

    Why did they not have a run-off election like we did here in Georgia? It would have been quicker and cheaper and lawyers wouldn't be involved.
    Oh, I remember now why there wasn't a run-off. Franken would have been destroyed Coleman picked up 90% of the third party candidate's votes. How can Franken claim a legitimate victory by 50 votes with only 43% of the the electorate voting for him. Coleman would have won a run-off 55% to 45% and Franken knows it. You can't claim Bush stole Florida without admitting Franken will steal Minnesota.

    December 23, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. alvino

    I am glad that Minnesota (unlike FL in 2000 or Ohio in 2004) counts all the votes. Now if Norm would bow out gracefully, it would be a good day.

    December 23, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. demwit

    Minnesota has proven themselves a bigger joke than I. Frankenstein the Comedian is obviously destined to be their senator.

    December 23, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Steve December 23rd, 2008 7:48 am ET

    ..........The fact that a coin flip will decide this race if it is tied is the most ridiculous law in the American political system.........



    The 'coin flip' was an honored means of settling legal disputes up to about 130 years ago.

    The shame is not the fact that a coin flip may decide this election; the shame is that the state of Minnesota hasn't updated its election tie-break laws in 140+ years.

    December 23, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. rightwingrick

    I've been watching this recount live, on-line, and it is being very professionally done on all sides. Minnesota should be proud. Every person that wanted to vote has been able to vote (unlike Florida and Ohio), and all legitimate votes ARE being counted (unlike Florida and Ohio).

    The "double votes" some are referring to have to do with ballots that were unable to be sent though the calculation machine and had to be reproduced. There were a smattering of these all over the state, and everyone wants to make sure they were handled properly. The Franken team doubts there is an issue here, but we will see. They are not trying to stop the review.

    The absentee ballots have to do with clerical error when the ballots were set aside and not counted. There was a misunderstanding by some about what was legally required (like a zip code) to count the ballots, and clerical errors have been found. Those votes SHOULD be counted, because it was not a voter error, but an error made by the staff counting votes. Each team will review and agree on each ballot IN THE SECRECY ENVELOPE BEFORE IT IS OPENED. So this is fair, and just common sense.

    Whomever wins will have earned it.

    December 23, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. alvino

    For those of you who think that Franken will not get much respect in the senate, I would like to remind you of Ted Stevens, Larry Craig and the big five from the south (McConnel, Chambliss, Vitters, Corker, and Shelby), they are the real jokes in the senate. At least Ted is gone.

    December 23, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  15. Dan, TX

    These crazy conservatives think that they can call the election from home on the blog rather than be bothered by a fair and transparent recount process. Amazing. Let the process work. It worked for Bush in 2000, perfectly fair. Let it do the same in Minnesota. As we accepted Bush in FL, we have to accept the outcome, whatever it is, in MN.

    December 23, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. John, Rochester MN

    Obama show, your idiocy never fails to amuse me. Franken didn't lose, and he didn't start the recount process. It was mandated by state law. They're not counting over and over, they're counting everything once. All the blather in this thing is coming from the Coleman side, not surprisingly. The first thing out of Coleman's mouth was "You should concede!" even though not all votes had been counted. And which side was it again that challenged over twice as many ballots as the other? Whatever it takes to win, indeed.

    December 23, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. Teresa

    This country needs an Al Franken. He is intelligent and tough. To those who say the democrats are angry, painting conservatives as people who are war hungry and do not care about the planet, consider that we have watched this country deteriorate before our very eyes over the last eight years. The Repubilican party has run amok, and we have watched in horror. Yes, we are angry, but mostly we are terrified. The financial world is collapsing and global warming is threatening life on the planet.
    Give the democrats a chance to try and undo the damage. Give old Al a chance.

    December 23, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. Mari

    @ BILL.......... I read your post, and it was thoughtful. Here is the thing, BILL, I for one, did not vote for President-elect Obama to "slap Bush down". I voted for President-elect Obama because Bush has all but destroyed our Nation!

    The thing that most conservatives do not seem to understand, is that the vile politics of the McCain/Republican campaign was REJECTED by a vast majority of Americans!

    At Palin rallies, we heard "Kill Him!" We heard "terrorist!" We heard ALL sorts of LIES on McCain & RNC commercials...... over and over and over.


    Also, we REJECTED the Bush Doctrine, the questioning of our Patriotism simply because we questioned the Bush/Cheney decision to attack a sovereign country, Iraq.

    One last thing, BILL, the FACT that Bush/Cheney lied, that they condoned torture, ignored the law and our Constitution are ALL reasons that I voted for Barack Obama. PLUS, OBAMA offered me something that I have not heard since JFK.......... inspiration instead of FEAR....... hope instead of HATE......... and a UNITED country instead of as Palin said "Real America....."

    December 23, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. April

    Steve is right. How come an automatic runoff hasn't been done yet? This has gone on for far too long now.

    December 23, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Larry Ulstein

    Funny-you die hard neocons had no problem with BUSH v GORE. Bush stole TWO elections. One in Florida (2000)when he had his gangsters stop the counting in Miami, and then in Ohio (2004).

    Get over it. Havn't the NeoCons done enough har th this country?

    December 23, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. GM from MN

    Coleman was lucky enough to have a 3rd party come in and grab so many votes.

    If there wasn't a decent 3rd party candidate, Coleman would have lost by double digits.

    December 23, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. GM from MN

    December 23rd, 2008 8:27 am ET






    On the contrary approx 1600 votes aren't being counted because Normie knows that they'll likely favor Al more than him.


    December 23, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. WJC


    According to MN law, there were NO initial results to "overturn". State law mandates a recount when the vote is this close so Fraken hasn't done anything except let the process dictated by law play out. Coleman has done the same thing.

    Whose a Democrat?:

    In Minnesota, decades ago the Democratic party merged with the Farmer and Labor parties creating the DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) Party. Everyone up here just refers to Democrats as DFLers.

    December 23, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. Karl

    It's amazing that the far right laments on Al possible win, accusing him of anything to not being qualified to take the Senate seat. Yet, these same person stood by their prose to support a 6 year college grad in Journalism, that attended 6 plus schools in pursue of that graduation, became sport journalist, then a small time mayor and recently a governor of 650k plus people for Vice President. Give it a rest. We will be fine.

    December 23, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. John in Ohio

    This recount has been checked forward and backwards by Republicans and Democrats. Whatever the end result is, whether the winner is Coleman or Franken, that'll be who actually legitimately won.

    And the recount occurred because the margin was well within the .5% margin that, by Minnesota state law, automatically triggers a mandatory recount.

    This isn't win at any cost, this isn't dirty politics, by the Democrats OR the Republicans. The margin was close. It was REAL close. An automatic recount was automatically triggered, and both parties are making sure all the ballots are checked and all the votes are counted. Republican or Democrat, deal with it.

    December 23, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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