The Al Franken campaign is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to direct the Governor and the Secretary of State to issue an election certificate in Minnesota’s unresolved U.S. Senate race - since a recount showed Al Franken had more votes than Norm Coleman, according to a report in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.
An advocate for Franken, Attorney Marc Elias, argued to the three-judge panel that Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie were overriding federal authority by refusing to certify Franken as the winner in the interim period as Republican Coleman continues to fight his legal battle to defeat his Democratic opponent’s 225-vote lead.
Elias argued that the state of Minnesota will have failed a constitutional mandate to provide two senators if it does not act immediately rather than waiting for all the legal smoke to clear.
“The state has the obligation to participate in the federal scheme ... and not opt itself out,” he said.
Meanwhile, James Langdon, Coleman's attorney, said that the law is clear. Minnesota state election statutes do not address any provisional election certificate process.
Justice Alan Page of the panel announced at the close of arguments and questioning by the panel that a ruling would be forthcoming.
As this deliberation unfolds, the substantive trial between Franken and Coleman continues with various election officials being called to the stand to testify.
In a recent development in the Minnesota Senate trial, the panel of judges ruled that Coleman could argue for the admission of about 4,800 absentee ballots that were allegedly rejected improperly.
At mid-week, Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg was reviewing the questioned ballots with Washington County’s elections supervisor, asking why they were rejected.
The absentees are Coleman’s main hope for overcoming Franken’s now-225-vote lead in the seemingly unending election contest.
As the trial proceeds and the parties wait for the latest ruling by the court, one Minnesota legislator has introduced legislation to change state law and immediately certify Democrat Al Franken as the junior U.S. senator from Minnesota.
Minnesota Rep. Phyllis Kahn is asking the state legislature to vote on H.F. 0493, a bill that allows provisional certification of the winner of an election while legal disputes are contested in court.
Under current Minnesota law, a winner cannot be certified until all legal avenues of appeal have been exhausted. GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty repeatedly has cited that law in reusing to certify Franken the winner.
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