Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Next year in Minnesota

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Minnesota Public Radio:

Minnesotans will not know whether Democrat Al Franken or Republican Norm Coleman won the Senate race until next year. Election officials, along with the two campaigns, have agreed on a framework for adding wrongly-rejected absentee ballots to the recount.

Franken is currently up by just 47 votes. (The Star-Tribune has him up 46 and has more on the latest developments here and here.)

It all comes down to the rejected absentee ballots. Once identified, the newly accepted absentee ballots must be sent to the secretary of state by January 2 and then opened and counted by January 4. Challenges will then begin on January 5.

New senators are scheduled to be sworn in on January 6. Needless to say, this won't be over by then. There's a long and contentious way to go.


Update: From Eric Kleefeld at TPM Election Central:

In a unanimous decision handed down just now, the state Supremes denied Coleman any relief in a lawsuit he was waging to deal with allegations of double-counted absentee ballots, which his campaign says have given an illegitimate edge to Al Franken. The Coleman campaign was seeking to switch 25 selected precincts back to their Election Night totals, which would undo all of Franken's recount gains in those areas and put Coleman back in the lead.

The court, however, sided with the Franken camp's lawyers in saying that a question like this should be reserved for a post-recount election contest proceeding, as the proper forum to discover evidence -- and which also has a burden of proof that heavily favors the certified winner.

Simply put, Coleman is in very big trouble right now. With Al Franken leading by 47 votes, this lawsuit was Coleman's best shot at coming from behind. And it just failed, making a Franken win nearly a foregone conclusion when this recount finishes up in early January.

But it's still far from over. If he's behind at the end of the recount, Coleman will undoubtedly challenge the results in court. But it would nonetheless be a huge victory for Franken, who would have the advantage of being ahead going into any such challenge, and of being deemed the winner, if still unofficially.

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