Democrats are hailing a ruling from a three-judge panel in the long-running Minnesota Senate race, saying it only puts a limited number of ballots in play that will make it difficult for Republican Norm Coleman to overcome the 225-lead held by comedian Al Franken.
“It’s not looking good,” said a GOP staffer close to Coleman.
Details are not yet available, and the Franken campaign is holding a 5:30 p.m. conference call, while Coleman’s lawyers are planning a 6 p.m. conference call. Lawyers for both campaigns are reviewing the documents right now. A spokesman for Coleman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The ruling, released in the past 30 minutes, requires new absentee ballots to be counted in open court.
"It's good for us," said a source close to the Franken campaign [...]
“This means we’re going to the [state] Supreme Court and, if need be, the federal courts,” the Coleman source said.
Rieux has more.
The title of the document is "Order for delivery of ballots to office of the Minnesota Secretary of State for Review by the Court."
The syllabus at the top of the order commands:
- That the absentee ballot materials for a bunch of voters listed in the (long) Exhibits A-C be delivered to Ritchie's office;
- That the ballots determined by the Court to be legally cast will be opened and counted on April 7--one week from today;
- That this Order go out to the county auditors;
- Ritchie's office (a.k.a. "OSS") will be opening, sorting and counting the legally cast absentee ballots in open court;
- Memorandum (lotsa reading ahead--sorry) attached; and
- "Any other relief not specifically ordered herein is DENIED."
Barring something really shocking from that count next week, I think #6 means Al Franken is the Junior Senator from Minnesota.
Franken news conference about to begin, I'll update with anything relevant.
Update: From the conference call:
400 extra absentee ballots need to be counted, a week from today (because no one is in a hurry to seat Minnesota's second Senator). Coleman would have to win something like 313 of them to overtake Franken. (And that's not including the Nauen votes (from a private lawsuit), which are another almost guaranteed 35 Franken votes.)
Update II: Franken attorney Mark Elias thinks the order doesn't deal with the MN "lost 133" ballots that were never found, nor the issue of double-counted ballots. So a final order might have to wait until after the April 7 counting.
Update III: Star Tribune:
In a potentially decisive ruling, a panel of three judges today ordered up to 400 new absentee ballots opened and counted, far fewer than Republican Norm Coleman had sought in his effort to overcome a lead held by DFLer Al Franken.
The ballots appear to include many that Franken had identified as wrongly rejected as well as ballots that Coleman wanted opened. About half come from Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis counties, places Franken won by significant margins.