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Franken Wants to Be Seated As Coleman Challenge Falters (UPDATE: Pawlenty Denies Franken’s Request)

DFL Senator-apparent Al Franken today asked Minnesota’s governor and secretary of state to certify his election victory so that he can provisionally join the U.S. Senate while his opponent, former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman’s legal challenge is resolved.

At the end of the statewide recount, Franken led by 225 votes, and today he sent letters to Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D), arguing that Minnesota should have full representation in the Senate as the upper chamber begins to debate its agenda. The state leaders have yet to respond.

According to state law, the election certificate cannot be signed within seven days of the certification of the result. That seven-day window has now elapsed, but it is unclear whether Franken can be seated in Washington while Coleman’s lawsuit is pending.

In the meantime, Coleman’s case has taken a serious hit. He is seeking to have 654 rejected absentee ballots counted, even though they have twice been ruled faulty — on Election Day, and upon a second review by election officials last month. Now it looks as if they will be rejected for the third time.

Several counties have once again reviewed these ballots, and the numbers aren’t good for Coleman. Nate Silver reports that of the 151 of these ballots that the counties have reevaluated, just one has been deemed improperly rejected. For Coleman, that’s a success rate of two-thirds of one percent.

Of course, Coleman’s aim is to have the courts rule in his favor, and local officials will probably not play much of a role. But at a time when Coleman needs literally everything to go his way if he is to have a chance of overturning Franken’s victory, this isn’t a good start.

UPDATE 2:08 PM: The Minnesota Independent reports that Pawlenty has rejected Franken’s request for a signed election certificate, citing a statute indicating that election contests must be resolved before a certificate can be issued.

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