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December 12, 2008

Franken camp wins two key rulings

Al Franken’s campaign won two key rulings today that may help him overcome a tiny deficit against Sen. Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate recount.

The Minnesota Canvassing Board unanimously recommended that all counties include the absentee ballots that were unfairly rejected on Election Day in the recount. Election officials throughout the state have been sorting absentee ballots based on why they were rejected – and putting aside a fifth group (called the “fifth pile”) with those unfairly rejected ballots.

Minnesota’s Deputy Secretary of State predicted over 1,500 ballots fall in this category. If they’re included, they could potentially overturn Coleman’s razor-thin lead. Coleman leads Franken by 192 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s official count.

Earlier, the Canvassing Board voted unanimously to include the 133 missing ballots from a Minneapolis precinct that voted overwhelmingly for Franken -- another victory for the Franken camp. Coleman’s campaign argued the ballots may never have existed in the first place, and shouldn’t have been counted.

“We are pleased that the state canvassing board has affirmed what we always believed to be true: Minnesota is not a state that disenfranchises its voters,” said Franken spokesman Andy Barr.

“Today's decisions represent positive and productive steps towards ensuring that this election is decided fairly and accurately, as well as a complete rejection of the Coleman campaign's effort to throw out lawful votes from Minnesotans.”

Next week, the Canvassing Board will pore over as many as 4,000 ballots that both campaigns have disputed.

Coleman's campaign will be holding a press conference at 1:45 EST to offer its reaction to the ruling.