Slip sliding away

Norm Coleman’s lead over Al Franken melted away during the Board of Canvassers’ deliberations on Coleman-challenged ballots yesterday. According to the Star Tribune, it is down to five votes. According to the AP, it is down to two.

Given the variables that go into the netting of the vote total, it is very difficult to tell where we are. The trend does not appear to favor Senator Coleman. To gauge some of the difficulties in figuring out where we are, take a look, for example, at Tom Scheck’s “Let’s play Senate style 3 card monte!,” John McCormack’s “Is Al Franken trailing by just two votes?” and Nate Silver’s “Minnesota lunchtime update: It’s gonna be close.”

Anticipating that Franken would take the lead in public estimates today, the Coleman campaign issued the following statement yesterday afternoon:

First, the board is making steady progress as they work through all of the challenged ballots. As you are likely aware, because of the way this process has been structured, all of the Franken challenges were considered first and now the board is working their way through the Coleman challenges. Our campaign brought around 1000 challenges before the board. We are in the process of withdrawing approximately 400 of those, and because the board did not have time to pull them out of the line-up before today’s meeting, today you’ll likely see the numbers flip upside down as a significant number of those withdrawals go back into the Franken column. Because of the timing, the withdrawn challenges that will provide additional Coleman votes will not be awarded until later. This will cause a temporary flip today that will be righted once all the ballots have been reviewed and withdrawn challenges reinstated, likely by tomorrow.

We fully and confidently expect that by the time the review process is complete, the vote totals will right themselves, and Senator Coleman will be ahead, as he has been throughout this recount process.

We also are expecting the board to deal with the issue of duplicate ballots soon. As we’ve said, we have serious concerns about a number of instances throughout the state where double counting has occurred, as both duplicates and the originals these duplicates were intended to replace were counted separately during the recount. The agreement reached before the recount to deal with this issue has now been proven not to work since numerous local officials did not follow the statute election night. Attached is a brief letter we sent to the canvassing board. It explains that their current path will result in the double count of ballots, which violates the tenet “one person, one vote”. We are committed to making sure that no one person’s vote counts more than any others. It’s a pretty simple concept, and it needs to be protected.

So, as we’ve said all along, it’s a long process, it’s a methodical process, and we are committed to making sure that it is done right.

My guess is that the “confidence” expressed in this statement is spin, but that is only a guess.

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