Al Franken took his first official lead in the Minnesota Senate recount this morning, as the canvassing board continued to reject the vast majority of Sen. Norm Coleman’s challenges.
Franken will hold a solid lead, likely in the low triple digits, by the time the canvassing board concludes its review of the challenged ballots. About 300 ballots remain to be reviewed, and the board hopes to finish the process tonight.
Also, last night the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballots that were improperly rejected must be counted in the final tally, reports The Minnesota Independent. Over a strong dissent, a three-justice majority decided that these ballots should be included, but that both campaigns must agree that a ballot was rejected without cause for it to be counted. This represents a big victory for the Franken campaign, which is expected to gain about 100 net votes from these ballots.
It now appears that unless Coleman can win a major lawsuit to disqualify a high number of Franken ballots, Al Franken will be the next U.S. senator from Minnesota.
UPDATE 12:12 PM: Franken’s lead has now surpassed 150 votes, with around 100 challenged ballots left to review. My prediction of “low triple digits” is looking pretty good.