It’s Official: Minnesota Race Going to Recount

Posted November 18, 2008 at 2:36pm

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota’s epic Senate race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and comedian Al Franken (D) moved to a step closer to seeing an official winner Tuesday as the Minnesota State Canvassing Board approved a recount.

A statewide, mandatory hand recount is scheduled to begin Wednesday to determine the winner of the most expensive Senate race in the country this cycle. While Minnesota’s 87 counties can decide when to begin their recount, they must be completed by Dec. 5.

The race came down to a mere 215 votes out of some 2.9 million ballots cast, or 0.007 percent. Minnesota state law requires a recount in races closer than one-half of one percent.

The recount has gained national attention because a Franken victory would put Democrats in the Senate closer to the 60 votes that they need to break a filibuster. Democrats picked up six seats on Election Day, bringing their total to 57. Ballots are still being counted in Alaska, and a competitive runoff is taking place in Georgia next month.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a member of the Democrat-Farmer Labor party and chairman of the recount board, has been subjected to attacks from the Coleman campaign, which has questioned his objectivity. Ritchie has defended his work and the work of the Canvassing Board, which is composed of Ritchie, two state Supreme Court justices and two county district judges.