Law Center - POSTED: 2008/12/30 09:34
The campaigns of Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken wrangled Monday over hundreds of unopened absentee ballots that could still tip Minnesota's Senate race.
Lawyers ended a testy public negotiation session convened by the secretary of state's office without agreement on which ballots to open or how many should be under consideration.
That leaves the heavy lifting to a series of regional meetings that begin Tuesday. The ballots that make the cut at those meetings will be opened in St. Paul by Monday.
Those ballots are important because Franken leads Coleman by just 47 votes after the manual review of more than 2.9 million ballots.
The absentee ballots in question were incorrectly rejected by poll judges on or before Election Day, mostly because of clerical errors outside the four legal reasons for rejection.
The state board overseeing the recount ordered that the ballots be counted, and the state Supreme Court agreed — although justices added a few wrinkles. A majority ruled that either campaign can keep any ballot out of the mix with a written objection, leaving spurned voters the option of going to court to reinstate their ballot.
Local officials identified some 1,350 rejected ballots they now say should count, but Coleman's campaign suggested there are an additional 650 that should be added.