Anyone wondering if there was significant progress made in the ongoing ballot recount for the Minnesota Senate race between Al Franken and incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman over the holiday “break” may be disappointed to know that it still is far from over. The primary remaining obstacle? Whether or not to count 1,346 “improperly” rejected absentee ballots.
Each campaign’s lawyers met today at the office of Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie in an effort to come to an agreement over whether or not the ballots should be counted. Franken’s camp wants to count all 1,346, but Coleman so far has only agreed to 136 and made a promise to accept more.
The ballots are yet unopened, but numerous reports indicate that the list “includes ballots from precincts leaning Democratic.”
Without these ballots, Franken has a razor-thin lead – just 46 votes – over Coleman.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court order requires a resolution to the issue by this weekend, but Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Chairman of the state canvassing board, has said that it may take up until January 6th to finish tallying the votes.
Even after this date, campaign lawsuits could continue to delay the announcement. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated last week that it is unlikely that the Senate will declare a “vacancy,” for the seat if the outcome of the race is not decided by the time Congress convenes, the only move that would allow Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to appoint an interim Senator.
If this is the case, Minnesota will lose out on half its Senate representation during the crucial first weeks following the Inauguration – when key legislation on major issues from the economy to national security issues is sure to arise.