In Minnesota, Recount Battle Goes On

Posted December 29, 2008 at 3:37pm

The campaigns of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Democratic challenger Al Franken continued to squabble on Monday over which rejected absentee ballots to add to the statewide recount. With around 1,350 of these ballots yet to be counted, Franken leads Coleman by 46 votes. At a Monday morning meeting with the Minnesota secretary of state, the campaigns had yet to reach an agreement. Because the ballots are unopened, it’s uncertain which way the new votes would break — though Franken’s campaign is confident that they will break for the Democrat. The campaigns were scheduled to meet again with the secretary of state at 4 p.m. EST to re-evaluate the ballot situation. In a pre-meeting conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, Coleman’s recount attorney Fritz Knaak accused the Franken campaign of rushing the process. Over the weekend, local county officials identified 1,346 wrongfully rejected absentee ballots that the state Supreme Court ordered to be added to the recount by the end of the year. Franken’s campaign was in favor of adding the ballots to the mix, while Knaak said the Coleman campaign would seek to include another couple hundred wrongfully rejected ballots at the 4 p.m. meeting. According to rules from the secretary of state’s office, the campaigns have the option of contesting the validity of a wrongfully rejected absentee ballot or suggesting additional rejected absentee ballots be added to the count. Local county officials are scheduled to meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to sort through the improperly rejected absentee ballots. The secretary of state ordered that all of these ballots be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Friday. The state canvassing board is scheduled to commence public counting of these unopened ballots on Jan. 5, though both campaigns will have the option of challenging the ballots later in the week. If the final recount does not end up in the Republican’s favor, Coleman’s attorneys have promised to file a lawsuit with the state before the results are certified based on an allegation of “double voting” that they allege benefited Franken. Knaak confirmed once again Monday afternoon that it was highly unlikely a Senator would be seated when Congress returns on Jan. 6.