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Franken-Coleman Recount Dispute Highlights Ballot-Count Shortcomings

Inconsistencies in how absentee ballots were dealt with may become the subject of a legal challenge to the outcome.

by / April 9, 2009
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Al Franken (pictured) the apparent winner by about 300 votes.

Only a few hundred ballots separated Minnesota's U.S. Senate race between Senator Norm Coleman the incumbent, and challenger Al Franken. After a ballot recount and following a laborious process of contesting rejected absentee ballots, it appears that Franken has won by around 300 votes. However, inconsistencies in how absentee ballots were dealt with may become the subject of a legal challenge to the outcome, according to media reports.

In a release earlier this week, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said that 351 absentee ballots were counted that had been previously uncounted. A three-judge panel ordered the counting of the ballots after hearing seven weeks of testimony and considering thousands of exhibits. Of the 351 ballots opened, Coleman received 111 votes, Franken 198. An additional 42 ballots were cast for other candidates and voters who opted to not vote in the Senate race. There were no votes challenged by either campaign.

Wayne Hanson Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government