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| 11/24/08 4:40 AM EST
Election judges Lucy Karml and Diana Kittelsoncount ballots by hand over the watchful eyes of Geri Katz, a representative of Al Franken as wellas other election officials Friday Nov. 21, 2008 ata recount site Minneapolis which will decide theelection results between incumbent RepublicanSen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.
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Navigate:Politico|Congress| Franken hopes turn on absentee issue
Franken hopes turn on absentee issue
Text Size:One of the closest elections in U.S. Senate history is hurtlingtowards a critical juncture in its ongoing recount this week, asthe campaign of Democratic challenger Al Franken opens a newlegal front in its battle to break a virtual tie with Republican Sen.Norm Coleman.On Wednesday, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board willhear arguments from Franken’s camp for why previously rejectedabsentee ballots should now be counted.Coleman ended the initial count with an advantage of just 215votes out of nearly 3 million cast, and he has held a slim leadthus far in the recount.“We’re 70 percent through [the recount] now,” ColemanCommunications Director Mark Drake told Politico Sunday, “anda lot of the ballots that are looked at are in areas whereFranken’s done well. We’re surprised he didn’t do better in termsof picking up more votes.”Robert Hentges, a veteran Minnesota election law attorney notinvolved in this year’s recount, cautions that results rarelychange in recounts of optical scan ballots, as are used in almostevery county in the state. “Very few votes change,” he said, and“more often or not, for the winner on election night, the gapgrows.”While the conventional wisdom is that these recounted ballotsshould break the same way as the broader election results,Republicans fret that sloppy Democratic voters might mean Franken votes emerging as the recount continues.“Democrats are [thought to be] more creative, free-spirited, so the idea is they’re more likely to make a mistake that theoptical scan won’t pick up,” explains Hentges. “But when they recount the hard copy, those votes will be counted for Franken. If you talk to Republicans, they say it will be Franken’s advantage, because Democrats are stupid and willscrew up ballots more often.”Still, observers both in and out of the campaigns expect the drama won't come to a head just yet, and perhaps not untilChristmas.“This thing could just drag on,” says Brian Rice, a Minnesota attorney who has represented Democrats in state recountcontests.Gumming up the process is the mounting of nearly 2,000 ballot challenges from both sides as of Sunday.“Unless somebody wanted to go in independently and start sorting them out, it’s going to be pretty murky,” says Rice.“There are still half a dozen counties who will be recounting until after Thanksgiving. Everything can happen. We couldnot have a senator for a while.”A Nov. 15 study of the Senate race by three Dartmouth College professors, predicted that the recount would favor Franken. But as of Saturday night, Coleman still led by 180 votes.“Overall, we feel good about where we are, good about way recount is being conducted,” Drake said, adding that mostof the counties that have yet been reviewed favored Coleman in the election.
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Franken hopes turn on absentee issue - Daniel Libit - Politico.comhttp://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15904.html1 of 712/19/2008 10:39 AM