News & Election Videos

December 24, 2008

Franken camp wins key court ruling

Al Franken’s campaign won a pivotal court ruling that could pave its way to winning the closely contested Minnesota Senate race against Sen. Norm Coleman.

In a unanimous decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against the Coleman campaign’s request to prevent the state's Canvassing Board from certifying the results until issues dealing with double-counted ballots could be resolved. Coleman’s campaign is alleging that as many as 150 ballots were accidentally counted twice during the recount process.

The court ruled that any such action would have to be dealt with in litigation after the election is certified, and was out of the state Canvassing Board’s purview.

Franken leads Coleman by 48 votes, with still about 1,600 absentee ballots – expected to favor Franken – left to count. The race will not be certified by the Minnesota secretary of state until January 5 at the earliest. The U.S. Senate convenes on January 6.

UPDATE: In its response to the ruling, the Coleman campaign signaled it will contest the final election results in court.   If that happens, the Senate race will continue to be disputed well into January and for perhaps even longer. 

On a conference call held this afternoon, Coleman attorney Fritz Knaak predicted any post-election challenge could take longer than a month to resolve.

“The decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court today virtually guarantees two things in this recount. One: it ensures that there will be an election contest because Minnesotans simply will not support an election as close as this being decided by some votes being counted twice," said Knaak.

"Two: this ensures that no certificate of election will be issued due to an election contest inevitably being filed, leaving Minnesota without two sitting United States Senators on January 6th."