Update on the never ending senate race!

First Recount Ruling Benefits Franken
By Shira Toeplitz
Roll Call Staff

March 31, 2009, 5:36 p.m.

In another boost to Democrat Al Franken’s case in the ongoing Minnesota Senate recount trial, a three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that only 400 previously rejected absentee ballots will be delivered to the secretary of state to be reviewed.

With a margin of 225 votes separating Franken from Republican Norm Coleman, it’s unlikely that the additional ballots could swing the election in Coleman’s favor. An initial count of the ballots that were ordered to be reviewed showed that 167 of them were from the home counties of the Twin Cities, where Franken had a strong showing.

The pool of ballots is small compared with the approximately 1,350 absentee ballots that Coleman’s campaign wanted added to the final recount tally. What’s more, the three judges explicitly stated that not all 400 will be counted in the final total and instead will merely be reviewed by the court once they acquire more information. The judges ruled that these absentee ballots will be opened, sorted and counted in a courtroom beginning April 7.

The Tuesday decision is the first of what is expected to be several rulings in the recount trial that stemmed from the disputed 2008 Senate race. The ruling is expected to be the first of many that will decide whether Coleman or Franken received more votes in November.

Furthermore, Coleman has indicated that he intends to appeal the result to the state Supreme Court if the three judges do not rule in his favor.

The Senate can legally seat Franken at any time, although Republican leaders have threatened to filibuster any attempt by Democrats to seat him before all of Coleman’s legal options are exhausted.