16 December 2008:
With Coleman leading by fewer than 200 votes in an unfinished race, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board begins reviewing challenged ballots December 16. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie hopes to conclude the count by December 19, however, with the matter of incorrectly rejected absentee ballots unsettled at this point, this goal may not be realistic.
Counties were given the authority to accept the incorrectly rejected ballots but the Coleman campaign has filed litigation to block this procedure. State law dictates that in a race this close, as many ballots as possible should be allowed into a (re)count to insure that the majority of voters’ intentions are taken into consideration.
The number of challenged ballots to be reviewed has been reduced to approximately 1,500 (500 challenged by Franken, 1,000 challenged by Coleman). Although the challenged ballots have been made available online through this link, viewers should understand that there could be markings unseen on the online photographs that could render a ballot invalid should the Canvassing Board judge validity as well as voter intent.
Percentage of Ballots Recounted: 99.93%
Percentage of Precincts Recounted: 99.98 %
Franken recounted votes as of 5 December 2008: 1,207,657 (as of 4 November 2008: 1,210,285)
Coleman recounted votes as of 5December 2008: 1,208,344 (as of 4 November 2008: 1,210,995)
Ballots challenged by Franken campaign as of 5 December 2008: 3,280
Ballots challenged by Coleman campaign as of 5 December 2008: 3,375
Coleman is leading by 687 votes with 1 precinct left to count. There are 6,655 challenged ballots (excluding the challenges withdrawn by the Franken campaign and a large number of challenges that are expected to be drawn by the Coleman campaign). Additionally, there are 131 missing ballots from Ward 3 Precinct 1.
Each of the 6,655 challenged ballots could be rendered invalid, returned to the candidate for whom they were first counted or could go to the other candidate. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann gave the campaigns until the end of the day Wednesday, Dec. 3 to advise him as to which challenges they intend to withdraw. The Franken campaign stated its intention to withdraw at least 633 of its challenged ballots. The Coleman campaign said it “is willing to withdraw challenges,” but has yet to do so and has missed the deadline set by the Off ice of the Secretary of State.
Franken’s net gain: 23 votes (excluding challenged and missing ballots)
Source: MN Secretary of State
(Results not official until verified by the State Canvassing Board)
Additional Recount News:
*December 3: The Franken campaign will withdraw 633 of its challenged ballots and could withdraw even more according to lead recount attorney, Marc Elias. The Coleman campaign said it “is willing to withdraw challenges,” but has yet to take any steps in that direction.
December 2: Franken gained a net 37 votes after 171 uncounted ballots were found stuck in a machine in Maplewood’s 6th District. The Secretary of State’s office has requested an explanation as to how the votes were missed.
On November 26, the State Canvassing Board denied the Franken campaign’s request to include rejected absentee ballots in the recount. However, County Boards were given the option to include rejected absentee ballots at their discretion. It is still unclear whether some rejected absentee ballots will be counted or not.