Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and the four other members of the state's canvassing board resumed their deliberation over challenged ballots Wednesday morning, as the race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken remains too close to call.
When the panel began the day Tuesday, approximately 1,500 challenged votes sat before them. The group made it through just over 160 of them, the majority of which went to Coleman. That was an expected outcome — original decisions are considered unlikely to be overturned, and the challenges being considered first came from the Franken team.
The board's goal, Ritchie said Wednesday morning, is to make it through the Franken pile by the end of the day.
The challenges included about 450 from the Franken campaign, and about 1,000 from Coleman's team. But as of Tuesday night, the Franken team withdrew about 80 of their challenges. The Coleman team also says they plan to withdraw more challenges — but Coleman spokesman Mark Drake said they're planning on adding roughly 200 to the list as well. There has been no final word on whether Franken will also include additional challenges.
Also Wednesday, the Minnesota State Supreme Court will hear arguments from the Coleman campaign, which has asked for the counting of improperly rejected absentee ballots to cease — at least until, as the argue, a "uniform" method for counting them is put in place by the state's canvassing board.
Two State Supreme Court Justices also serve on the canvassing board. Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson will abstain from the court's proceedings Wednesday, reducing the seven-member court to five.