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December 02, 2008

Franken camp claims Coleman lead down to 50

Franken campaign attorney Marc Elias said today that Franken is within 50 votes of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), according to the campaign’s internal tally, and believes that Franken can overtake Coleman when all the ballots are tallied.

Today's announcement from Elias comes as election officials from Ramsey County have found 171 ballots that went uncounted Election Night at one of the county's precincts, which has netted Franken an additional 37 votes. Ramsey County is one of the more reliable Democratic strongholds in Minnesota.

The votes are currently being tallied in the recount.

With over 91 percent of the vote recounted, the secretary of state’s official tally shows Coleman up by 340 votes. But Elias argued the number is misleading, given that none of the 5,952 disputed ballots are included in that tally. The Coleman campaign has challenged 191 more ballots than Franken’s team, skewing the results in its favor.

Elias said, based on the Franken campaign's own count, they believe they have picked up 165 votes on Coleman so far.

“We’re confident we’re going to gain votes when the challenges are resolved because we believe our challenges are of a higher quality [than Coleman’s],” said Franken attorney Marc Elias. “The vast majority of these challenges are going to be thrown out.”

Franken’s campaign team is also attempting to count absentee ballots that it believes were wrongly rejected. About 9,000 absentee ballots were rejected, and Elias believes up to 1,000 of them were rejected unfairly.

UPDATE:  Coleman's campaign attorney Fritz Knaak disputes the Franken campaign's internal calculations and said their own count is "nowhere near" the Franken tally. 

"We’re well north of the Franken number," Knaak said, but declined to offer a specific figure. 

Knaak also said the Coleman campaign believes only "a couple dozen" absentee ballots were wrongly rejected, a small number unlikely to change the final result.

"We're cautiously optimistic," he said. "It’s very tight, but this has been going the way we expected."