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In an hour of rapid-fire questions over Minnesota's disputed Senate election, the state's highest court focused on whether vote-counting flaws alleged by Republican Norm Coleman were severe enough to deny Democrat Al Franken the win.


Barely a minute into oral arguments, justices challenged Coleman's attorneys on the adequacy of evidence they presented in an election trial and the legality of their suggested remedy: that more ballots be counted even if some absentee voters didn't fully comply with the law.

"It's possible there are statutory violations which do not rise to the level of constitutional violation," Justice Alan Page said, alluding to a threshold appeals courts often turn to before reversing a lower-court decision.

The state Supreme Court justices can confirm Franken as the victor or reopen the count as Coleman wants.

Franken hopes the court orders that he immediately receive the election certificate required to take office. Franken is the potential 60th vote for Democrats in the Senate, though two of those are independents.

The court's involvement is the latest but maybe not the final stop. If Coleman loses, he could file a new case in federal court or petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which isn't certain to take the case. If Franken doesn't like the result, he could ask the Senate itself to weigh in.


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