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Franken Moves One Step Closer to Victory « The Washington Independent

Today the Minnesota Supreme Court removed one of the few remaining obstacles to Al Franken’s ascension to the U.S. Senate when it denied Sen. Norm Coleman campaign’s request to prevent about 130 alleged double-counted ballots from being counted.

The Coleman team argued that these ballots, whose originals and duplicates could not be properly matched, had been counted twice, and that the canvassing board should not certify the election results until this issue was resolved. Most of these ballots came from Minneapolis, which voted overwhelmingly (78 percent) for Franken, and their exclusion could have helped Coleman overcome his current deficit of 46 votes.

But the court ruled unanimously that the Coleman campaign lacked sufficient evidence of double counting, making it likely that Franken will be certified as the winner sometime in January. Coleman’s lawyers have said that they will contest the certified result.

The court also granted the two campaigns more time to identify absentee ballots that were wrongly rejected. The deadline for the allocation of the ballots was extended from Dec. 31 to Jan. 4. The extra time was alloted to allow for more fair and more effective counting. The decision also makes it “highly unlikely” that Minnesota will be able to seat its second senator on Jan. 6, according to a Coleman lawyer.

The 1,500 or so absentee ballots deemed wrongly rejected during the recount are expected to add slightly to Franken’s lead. For this reason, the Franken campaign has been pushing to include them, while the Coleman team has resisted.

So Franken inches closer to the finish line, but we won’t know for sure which campaign will reach it until next month. Stay tuned — or better yet, enjoy the holidays.

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