Democratic senatorial challenger Al Franken says he’s “quite certain” that he ultimately will be declared the winner of his Minnesota battle against Norm Coleman, the Republican senator who is now wrapping up his side of the election contest.
Franken also says he expects the trial reviewing the election to end in the next two to three weeks, compared with the five weeks of testimony the Coleman team elicited.
Speaking Saturday at a Democratic fundraiser, Franken told the spirited audience that he has fielded a lot of questions recently about the election contest.
“I think this trial will be over in about two or three weeks,” he said, “and I’m quite certain it’s going to reconfirm the recount. And at that point I hope to be seated.”
Referring to the paper-thin margin separating the candidates — unofficially, Franken leads by 261 votes out of nearly 3 million cast — the Democrat quipped, “I think there’s enough people in this room to say, ‘You might have been the difference.’”
Franken’s attorneys confirm they will need much less time to question witnesses and present evidence than Coleman did. Coleman’s side is expected to conclude its side of the case as early as today.
In another development, election officials throughout the state are inspecting about 1,500 absentee-ballot envelopes that were rejected on Election Day because the voter was not registered.
From weighing the envelopes, however, election officials believe some of them contain actual voter registration cards, which would make them eligible to be counted. The three-judge panel has set Wednesday, March 4, as the deadline for local election officials to complete their review of those ballots.
Although the new ballots give Coleman cause for optimism, legal scholars say Coleman faces a steep uphill climb to persuade the panel to overturn the results of the recount.
Duke University law professor Guy-Uriel Charles told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Coleman’s chances as “very slim.”
“Coleman is in a bubble running out of oxygen,” was the dim assessment that University of Minnesota political science professor Lawrence Jacobs shared with the newspaper.”
Coleman’s legal team continues to maintain that Franken’s lead is artificial because all the valid votes have not been counted, and some duplicate votes for Franken were counted twice. Coleman’s attorneys have hinted they may appeal any unfavorable ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, and under Minnesota law a certificate of election cannot be issued until all legal remedies have been exhausted.
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