The Minnesota Canvassing Board unanimously rejected Democrat Al Franken's request to count absentee ballots that his campaign claims poll judges counted erroneously, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Before the recount began, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman had a 215-vote lead out of 2.9 million ballots cast. Now state figures showed a 238-vote lead when Nov. 4 tallies are compared with new counts in precincts where the recount is done.
But those numbers don’t include the nearly 3,600 challenges to be sorted out later, meaning the absentee fight could prove critical.
Coleman's team had argued that the board lacks the power to include those ballots in the recount.
Franken’s request was rejected Wednesday by a vote of 5-0 of the canvassing board, which includes Minnesota’s secretary of state, supreme court chief justice, another justice, and two county judges.
More than 12,000 absentee ballots were rejected, or about 5 percent of the roughly 288,000 absentee ballots attempted to be cast, Ritchie said. That 288,000 figure was a state record.
There is some hope for voters concerned that their ballots were rejected erroeneously, the newspaper reported. The board was receptive to a proposal from county attorneys to have local election officials to go through their rejected absentee ballots again and look for any that do not meet the criteria for being rejected.
That would mean sorting the ballots into five piles: four piles that meet the state legal reasons for rejection and a fifth pile for ballots that were rejected without meeting those four criteria — in other words, those that probably were rejected improperly.
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