Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Minnesota officials eye challenged Senate ballots

While the official hand recount in Minnesota's tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken has ended, a stack of about 1,500 challenged ballots means the announcement of a winner is still at least a few days away.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's canvassing board, which includes Ritchie, two state Supreme Court judges and two Ramsey County judges, began reviewing the questioned ballots at noon Tuesday in an effort to determine each voter's intent.

Ballots have been challenged — and rejected — for a number of reasons, many because of ovals not properly filled in, some because of identifying marks — initials or signatures — made by voters on their ballots, and others for stray markings, particularly in the areas with the candidates' names.

The board started with about 440 ballots disputed by the Franken campaign. After three and half hours of debate, the board had sifted through just over 100 of them.

As could be expected with ballots challenged by Franken, most of the votes so far have been awarded to Coleman — approximately 70 to Franken's dozen or so. The remainder of the ballots have been placed in an "other" pile, most of them rejected as a vote for either candidate for one reason or another.


A canvassing board met Tuesday in Minnesota to review ballots in the state's very tight race for a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs

A canvassing board met Tuesday in Minnesota to review ballots in the state's very tight race for a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs

Ritchie hopes to complete the review of challenged ballots by the end of the day Friday, though that deadline is not solid. It is also possible for campaigns to add still more challenges to their piles.

At the end of the recount, Coleman held a slight edge of about 200 votes, but that number is far from final.

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