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Franken Claims First Lead in Senate Race, Drops 633 Challenges

The Minnesota Independent reports that the Al Franken campaign has just claimed its first lead of the Minnesota Senate recount, by a margin of 22 votes.

The official count, as reported by the Star Tribune, still has Franken’s opponent, incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, up by 295 votes. But this official tally excludes the 6,000-plus challenged ballots from the total until the challenges are resolved. Independent analysts such as Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com have stated that the Franken tally is likely more accurate because it takes the initial ruling on the 6,000 ballots into account.

According to The Minnesota Independent, 138,000 ballots have yet to be re-counted.

Under pressure from the Minnesota secretary of state to ease the burden on election judges by reducing the number of challenged ballots, the Franken campaign also announced that it will drop 633 challenges that it deems unwinnable. While this decision will probably have no impact on the outcome of the race, it will immediately increase Coleman’s official lead by around 600 votes.

Coleman is not expected to withdraw any challenges until Friday or later.

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