MN Senate Race: 11/10 Update
The latest vote count in the Minnesota US Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken puts Coleman ahead by only 204 votes, down from the initial count of 725. These results should be certified at the local level today, although the final certification will not occur until next week. Here is more news concerning the race.
Coleman attacks integrity of counting process; Ritchie defends
On Friday, after continuing counting efforts chipped away at Norm Coleman's (R) narrow lead, Coleman called the chipping away "improbable" and seemed to suggest the counting process might have been tainted by inaccuracy or even deliberate impropriety. Ritchie responded by claiming that his first priority is to keep the counting process nonpartisan, and accused Coleman of "denigrating" the election process.
32 Absentee Ballots Found and Counted
The parties ended up in court on Saturday, after 32 absentee ballots were found in the car of an election official. Coleman asked a judge to prevent those votes from being counted until the court verified that they had not been tampered with, but the judge refused on the basis of jurisdiction. The Franken campaign said that the request was a "disgusting attempt to disenfranchise voters...."
Public records request
Coleman has submitted to all local election officials in Minnesota a public records request for documents concerning the initial vote count and subsequent revisions, and also any documents concerning ballot security and chain of custody. In the event that Coleman loses the automatic recount that will probably occur, Coleman could use information like this to build a case that the counting process was sloppy and inaccurate, or even tainted by fraud.
Based on information provided by Joe Mansky, a Ramsey County (Minneapolis) elections official and expert, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune estimated that about 5,700 undervotes were cast statewide. An Associated Press analysis found that more undervotes in Minnesota came from "Obama turf" than "McCain turf," suggesting that Franken may pick up more ballots than Coleman in the manual recount. However, because some of the 5,700 ballots will contain no mark at all, it is not clear that this would be enough to give Franken the upper hand.