Minnesota: Final Tally Likely Today; Coleman Hits D.C. Visit

Posted November 17, 2008 at 5:08pm

With the State Canvassing Board set to certify the results in Minnesota’s unresolved Senate race today, the campaign of comedian Al Franken (D) has asked the board not to officially call the race until the votes of several voters who cast absentee ballots are included in the final count.

The Franken campaign filed a brief with the five-person board Monday, demanding that every eligible vote be counted.

“We would ask them to not certify the vote count,” Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer working for Franken, said in a news conference Monday.

The board, which consists of Minnesota’s Democratic secretary of state and four judges, is scheduled to officially certify the election results and is expected to determine that Sen. Norm Coleman (R) finished 206 votes ahead of Franken in the Senate race. But even if the tally becomes official, the race is so close — more than 2.9 million ballots were cast, putting Coleman’s lead at seven one-thousandths of 1 percent — that a hand recount of the ballots is set to begin on Wednesday. That county-by-county count is expected to last until Dec. 5.

In the news conference Monday, Elias described the difficulty four registered voters had in casting absentee ballots. He said the four are a “representative sample” of the problems that dozens of voters faced across the state, and because they had trouble, any official count that the state makes Tuesday will be inaccurate because dozens of voters were prevented from voting.

“I don’t think they have a vote count to certify,” Elias said.

Meanwhile, Coleman’s camp blasted Franken for a scheduled visit to Washington, D.C., today to brief Senate leaders on the state of the recount — and to raise money.

Coleman’s communications director, Mark Drake, told the Minneapolis Star- Tribune that it is “highly presumptuous” for Franken, who is skipping this week’s freshman orientation, to talk to top Senate Democrats, and he blasted the Democrat’s fundraising.

Franken’s campaign manager, Colleen Murray, told the newspaper that the fundraising is necessary because “the recount is very expensive.”