Attorneys representing Democratic senate challenger Al Franken announced late Tuesday that they will rest their side of the election contest on Wednesday.
“We think after seven weeks of trial we are in a position to rest,” Franken attorney Marc Elias told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper.
News that Franken would be wrapping up his side of the case against GOP Sen. Norm Coleman caught observers by surprise, given that Franken said on March 2 he thought his side of the case would take about two to three weeks.
On Monday, election officials reviewing some 1,500 rejected absentee ballots found 89 with valid voter registrations, which would appear to make those ballots eligible to be included. The three-judge panel presiding over the election contest has not definitely stated the ballots would be included in the final count, however.
Coleman’s attorneys have maintained that different election officials used different standards to decide whether ballots should be counted as valid. His attorneys have suggested it is therefore impossible to determine a winner without a “do-over” election.
Franken’s legal team maintains that Coleman’s case has not uncovered systemic deficiencies in the election process, and has asked the panel to dismiss the case. The panel has not yet indicated when it will rule on that motion, although it is scheduled to resume deliberations tomorrow.
Franken currently has a 225-vote lead in the election, although unofficial tallies based on ruling made by the panel suggest his actual lead is closer to 260 votes.
Coleman’s attorneys say if their client fails in his bid to overturn the results they may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. By Minnesota law, the certificate of election required to be seated in the Senate cannot be issued until all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.
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