A key witness in the Minnesota election contest, whose testimony on behalf of GOP Sen. Norm Coleman was thrown out, will now be allowed to testify, the three-judge panel hearing the case announced Thursday.
On Wednesday, the panel expunged poll worker Pamela Howell’s testimony when it learned she had provided a report on voting discrepancies to Coleman’s lawyers, but not to Democratic challenger Al Franken’s.
The judges reversed themselves on Thursday, ruling that Howell’s mistake was inadvertent and should keep her testimony from being entered into evidence.
Howell testified she had personal knowledge of errors at the polls that could have led to the double-counting of ballots. The Coleman camp has maintained throughout the recount process that Franken has benefited from votes that were counted twice.
Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg said Thursday that the case could have moved forward to challenge duplicate ballots without Howell’s testimony, but that having her story in the record helps to put a “human face” on the problem.
Coleman’s attorneys said earlier in the week that they hope to wrap up their side of the case by Monday or Tuesday. Franken’s lawyers will then move forward with their own case to demonstrate that more ballots should be added to Franken’s total. Franken’s attorneys have said their side of the case could take about two weeks.
In other news related to the recount, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the court panel has accepted new ballots Thursday that swell Franken’s lead to 261 votes. That’s up from the 225-vote lead Franken enjoyed after the Canvassing Board concluded its statewide recount in early January.
Friday will mark Day 25 of the court battle contesting the recount results.
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