Minnesota Senate Recount Heads for a Photo Finish

Minnesota’s Canvassing Board has now allocated most of the ballots which the Franken and Coleman campaigns had challenged, but subsequently withdrew those challenges. As a result, Franken’s lead has dwindled from 251 on Friday to 48 at the end of the day today. It’s hard to say what this means, as not all of the withdrawn challenges have been tabulated. Presumably that process will conclude tomorrow.

At that point, I believe the only outstanding issues will be Coleman’s claim that up to 130 ballots may have been counted twice and Franken’s claim–now being reported uncritically in the press–that around 1,600 absentee ballots were “improperly rejected.”

The bottom line is that the race is too close to call, with the critical decisions yet to be made by Minnesota’s Supreme Court. It is not yet clear–to me, anyway–whether those decisions will be made without the participation of the two Justices who recused themselves from the one hearing held so far, on the ground that they are serving as members of the Canvassing Board.

SCOTT adds: Tomorrow afternoon the Minnesota Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the Coleman campaign’s petition for relief regarding the issue of duplicate ballots, which involves approximately 130 apparently double counted votes in heavily Democratic precincts. Some members of the Board of Canvassers have acknowledged the seriousness of the issue, but reserved it for disposition in “another forum.” Given the narrowness of the margin separating the candidates, the Supreme Court’s disposition of this issue is obviously critical..

Those readers concerned about an alleged double standard employed by the Board in determining the intent of certain ballots should take a look at the comments of David Brauer and Nate Silver.

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