Franken Wins Ruling in Minnesota Senate Race
By DAVID STOUT and BERNIE BECKER
WASHINGTON — Al Franken, the comedian turned politician, won a potentially decisive court ruling on Tuesday in his bid to replace Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican trying to hold on to his Senate seat.
A three-judge panel ruled that only 400 absentee ballots — far fewer than Mr. Coleman had sought — should be examined for possible counting. If the ruling stands, it could be devastating for Mr. Coleman, who trailed his Democratic challenger by 225 votes out of some 2.9 million cast and had hoped that nearly 1,400 absentee ballots might be recounted.
Even if the results put Mr. Coleman further in the hole, as expected, he could fight on, before the Minnesota Supreme Court or perhaps in the federal courts. His lawyer said Mr. Coleman had not given up.
After seven weeks of deliberations, the court said it would decide which of the 400 ballots would be counted in open court by next Tuesday.
The panel said it based its decision on “a complete and thorough review of the 1,717 exhibits and transcripts of testimony.”
“To be clear, not every absentee ballot identified in this order will ultimately be opened and counted,” the panel wrote.
Nonetheless, the political terrain as well as the mathematics appeared to give Mr. Franken a big advantage, and the lawyers for both sides recognized that.
“We feel pretty good about where we stand,” Marc Elias, a lawyer for Mr. Franken, said in a conference call with reporters. “But we’re going to wait until Tuesday for these ballots to be opened and counted.”
But Mr. Elias observed that “the math is the math.” ...more...
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