[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/12/art.franken.gi.jpg caption="Franken's request to certify the election has been denied."]MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Mark Ritchie, Minnesota’s Democratic secretary of state, said Monday he would not sign off on any document certifying Al Franken as the winner of the state’s closely-contested Senate race until all lawsuits related to the recount had been resolved.
"Minnesota law is very clear on when a certificate of election can be issued,” he wrote in a Monday statement. “Neither the governor nor I may sign a certificate of election in the U.S. Senate race until all election contests have reached a final determination. Even if the governor issues a certificate of election prior to the conclusion of the contest phase, I will not sign it."
Attorneys with Al Franken's Senate campaign had sent a letter to Ritchie and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty Monday asking them to sign off on the official election certificate that names Franken winner.
(Updated with Pawlenty and Coleman camp responses after the jump)
Franken attorneys told reporters on a conference call the two parties have an obligation to sign it under federal and state law since the seven-day period has passed from the time the canvassing board certified the results of the recount, which found Franken ahead by 225 votes.
Franken attorney Marc Elias pointed to legal precedents, along with the constitutional requirement that the Senate “shall be composed of two senators from each state,” in denying the law allows the governor to abstain from signing the certificate if an election contest was filed during that window. A lawsuit was filed by Coleman the day after results were certified.
"We believe the law is clear," said Elias.
No word yet on whether or not Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would attempt to seat Franken if the certificate is signed. Elias said they have not yet tried to reach Reid.
Elias also said they would be filing a counterclaim and a motion to dimiss "large portions" of the Coleman petition that he said is "riddled with errors" and rehashes arguments that have been made and rejected.
Update: Pawlenty also turned down the Franken request, saying state law prohibited any action on his part until all legal battles surrounding the race had ended. “I have a duty to follow state law and our statutes are clear on this issue," he said in a statement. "I am prohibited from issuing a certificate of election until the election contest in the courts has been resolved.”
Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan called the Franken team's effort an "underhanded attempt to blatantly ignore the will of Minnesotans and the laws of the state."
“Al Franken knows he can’t win this election contest based on the major inconsistencies and discrepancies that were part of the recount, and his attempted power play today is evidence of that," said Sheehan in a statement sent to reporters.
"He can’t and won’t be seated in a seat he didn’t win, so he is trying this underhanded attempt to blatantly ignore the will of Minnesotans and the laws of the state. The totals certified by the state canvassing board include double counted votes, inconsistencies regarding rejected absentee ballots, and inconsistent handling of newly discovered and missing ballots. These are serious issues that both the canvassing board and the Minnesota Supreme Court directed be handled in an election contest, and that will go forward as required.”
Here's the provision cited by both camps:
204C.40 CERTIFICATES OF ELECTION.
Subdivision 2. Time of issuance; certain offices.
No certificate of election shall be issued until seven days after the canvassing board has declared the result of the election. In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest. This subdivision shall not apply to candidates elected to the office of state senator or representative.