December 30th, 2008
01:11 PM ET
14 years ago

Franken leads but fighting lingers in Minnesota recount

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Franken holds a narrow edge over Norm Coleman as counting continues."]ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - Democrat Al Franken maintained his slim lead of 50 votes Tuesday as Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and the state canvassing board allocated the remainder of what was approximately 6,000 ballots that had - at one point or another - been challenged by both campaigns.

"If there are any nits to be picked, they've been picked," said board member and Minnesota State Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson as the board adjourned.

In a statement, Franken himself said, "As it appears that we're on track to win, I want Minnesotans to know that I'm ready to get to work for them in Washington on day one."

Coleman campaign attorney Tony Trimble called Franken's double digit lead "artificial" and maintained there is still a long way to go in the counting process, specifically because a large number of improperly rejected absentee ballots have yet to be tallied.

But the process is far from over. The battle over which absentee ballots should be included in the mix has the makings of a brutal fight.

As outlined by the State Supreme Court, both campaigns and local election officials must agree on the ballots that were improperly rejected before the canvassing board can open and count them. Ballots that are rejected improperly are typically done so due to a clerical error or something similar.

Local elections officials have come up with a list of about 1,350 ballots that they say were accidentally rejected. Franken campaign representatives have said all of those should be counted.

Coleman reps say only about half of those should be considered but they've also identified about 600 more ballots that they say were not tagged by local officials but that were also rejected in error. Coleman's Tony Trimble admitted many of these 600 are from Coleman heavy areas but maintained that was just "coincidence."

Based on the court's ruling, the campaigns must agree before anything can be counted or, according to their decision, sanctions would be leavened. Exactly what those sanctions may be remains to be seen. The deadline to hand those envelopes over to the board is this Friday, but there is some doubt over whether that will happen or not.

Ritchie said he hopes a result can be certified in a "timely" fashion. If his estimation holds accurate over the course of the week, a result could be certified as early as Monday evening, however, the board has also reserved time on Tuesday, January 6 to review the rejected ballots, as well. Incidentally, January 6 is the day the new Congress is set to be sworn in.

Another issue the Coleman campaign is focusing on is whether or not approximately 150 ballots were accidentally double counted. Trimble has maintained for weeks now that wrongly-handled duplicate ballots exist. The canvassing board decided it was not an issue that they as a body should consider. The State Supreme Court heard the Coleman arguments and did not grant them relief. The option is still on the table for further legal action.

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. ANGIE


    December 30, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    Bumbling fools. Whats wrong with MN

    December 30, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Dave in Atlanta

    I'm a democrat but I'm sad to see Norm Coleman go. He's a pragmatic republican, and a sensible man. I'm a little skeptical about Al Franken, he seems to be someone who is going to engage in the sort of petty partisanship that I hate to see. I don't know if having another democrat in the senate is worth it if that democrat is going to be Al Franken. But the people on Minnesota appear to have made their choice. I'm not from Minnesota so it's not my place to judge really. We'll see what Franken does in the Senate.

    December 30, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. Glennis, PA

    It's obvious that Franken won't stop until he's conjured up enough ballots *legit or not) to win. It's the Democratic way.

    December 30, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Jason

    All of you who are arguing that ballots which are incorrectly marked should be thrown out. Do you not understand that the LAW says count them if the voter's intent can be determined? I guess that doesn't matter? I guess you have a better method of determining the results rather than the law?

    December 30, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Ian Minneapolis, MN


    December 30, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Dan, TX

    The recount in Minnesota has been very fair from all accounts. They should count all the improperly rejected early votes and then be done with it. Whoever wins, wins. Franken is winning at the moment, that may hold up or not, but either way, this recount has been very transparent, open, and fair. You can go look at all the challenged ballots on-line and judge for yourself!

    December 30, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. David Minneapolis

    At least the Supreme Court is not intervening to anoint a senator from Minnesota like the did with the Presidential Race in 2000 in Bush v. Gore. Wow, a recount where all the ballots are actually going to be counted! And how impatient people seem to be! Democracy often takes a long time, it's tedious, it's boring really. Sit back, relax, enjoy the show. It's a far cry better than using rockets or F-16's or the threat of a ground invasion to settle differences. It might be more exciting, but it's terribly deadly and a horrible reality for all those stuck in Gaza. Give thanks for your boring, boring, boring Minnesota.

    December 30, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. William

    The results are so statistically impossible - it's clear that the election has been fudged. I am confident that this could be established by analyzing distributions of votes in subsets of the population.

    What's not so clear is which side made the most egregious efforts to steal the election. Based on what we know about the GOP - there's more than a fair chance that they are to blame: what's the watchword ... "Get us within 5% and we'll steal the rest?" Probably the problem was that they were only within 8% and couldn't quite pull it off.

    December 30, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Paul

    There's no way I will believe this is an honest recount. If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it's probably a rat. The only honest course would be a full rerun.

    December 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Texas Teacher

    Go Franken! 🙂 rah rah rah.... *LOL* the old texas teacher is a cheerleader!

    December 30, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. GuyInVA

    I haven't seen any of these improperly rejected ballots, but I think it's funny how each side has flip-flopped regarding "counting every vote". At best, the winner will sit in the senate under a cloud of suspicion because of all the ballots that were "found" immediately following the election. The most amazing thing to me is how Senator Coleman lost over 500 votes before the recount even began. On a lighter note, although they are different houses of congress, I have to believe that lunatic Rep. Dennis Kucinich is rooting for Franken just to relieve some of the pressure.

    December 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  13. Texas Teacher

    I just wonder at the gerrymandering in Minn... here in Texas, the Repubublicans have made it virtually impossible for a Democrat to win... I was dumbstruck when they last pulled that old whammy... but not totally surprised.... corruption is rampant in Texas! I mean openly... Seriously....that is just a well known fact! 🙂

    December 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Kjetil

    Lets hope the one with most votes even if its just one vote wins. I hope that the looser will be so generous that he say he lost because of to few votes, and not makes himself a victim of the prosess. In some days we will know who won and it was a very very close election and just tells how important it is to go voting.

    December 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. happy new year

    are you sure this isn't BEDROCK USA, instead of minnisota? the election was nov....

    December 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Brian

    I personally can't wait to see him in action. He may have been very silly in his SNL days (and on his AirAmerica show as well) but I beleive that he'll be a compitent member of the new Congress. He's smart and progressive, I'm glad to see him pull this one off.

    December 30, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Blue is my favourite colour

    To Kerry: I believe "Lois" is speaking "ignorant speak".

    December 30, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  18. Norm Coleman

    Ain't it odd that when i was in the lead, i didn't want the votes recounted.

    Now that good ol Al' is leading, i suddenly want them recounted?

    Typical Republican.

    December 30, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  19. Michael - CA


    Arnie is a Republican, but a really stupid one. We've dealt with him for far too long.

    California=U.S Economy



    December 30, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  20. Cristine C.

    The best part about Al winning will be how angry this will make Bill O'Reilly.

    December 30, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
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