Franken's camp claims lead

Al Franken's attorney says the Democrat has overtaken incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, but has he really?

By Alex Koppelman
December 4, 2008 12:50AM (UTC)
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Al Franken has gotten some good news in his recount fight against Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) recently: the discovery of 171 uncounted ballots gave Franken a boost of 37 net votes, and Minnesota's secretary of state made one move towards counting rejected absentee ballots the Democrat wants included. Now, Marc Elias, the lawyer leading Franken's recount efforts, says that according to the campaign's tally, the challenger has overtaken Coleman and, as of Tuesday night, was leading him by 22 votes.

There's good reason to be skeptical about this claim: First of all, on Tuesday night the secretary of state's official count still showed Coleman ahead, and by 303 votes at that. The two numbers are different because of two different assumptions about the result of about 6,000 ballot challenges the two campaigns have made. The secretary of state's count assumes that all the challenges will result in the ballots being declared invalid; the Franken camp's count, on the other hand, assumes that all the challenges will be overruled.


The Coleman camp isn't letting this claim go without a fight. Politico's Josh Kraushaar quotes campaign manager Cullen Sheehan as saying, "Today, they’ve invented a story of a lead in the recount. We have confidence that on Friday the results of the recount will show Norm Coleman has emerged, again, as the winner of the 2008 United States Senate election.”

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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