3 Mower ballots in judges’ ‘review pool’

By Karen Colbenson

Three unopened absentee ballots from Mower County will be considered in the extended Senate battle between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franklin.

The three are among 400 unopened absentee ballots that three judges recently ordered be reviewed.

Judges presiding over Coleman’s lawsuit decided Tuesday that the ballots merit further consideration and possible counting. "To be clear," they wrote, "not every absentee ballot identified in this order will ultimately be opened and counted."


The judges ordered that the ballots be examined on Tuesday.

They said they need to see original material — rather than the photocopies used in court — to determine the validity of some ballots.

Gail Spurgeon cast one of the three Austin ballots in the pool of 400. She said she doesn’t know why her vote wasn’t counted in the first place.

"I thought every vote counted and that’s why I went down there to vote," she said.

Spurgeon said she is both frustrated and fascinated with the ongoing Senate battle and has been following the race for months. She said her grandson, who works for a Nebraska senator, encourages her to stay interested and active in politics.

"I don’t think he’d like it if his grandma didn’t vote," Spurgeon said, laughing.

"But I have always voted," she added. "It’s a privilege to be able to vote. I think as long I voted, it should count."

No one knows for sure exactly how the ballots will break, but they appear to favor Franken. Almost 150 names were on a ballot list Franken submitted; 125 were from Coleman’s list; and 50 were on both. The rest didn’t appear on either candidate’s list.


Within two hours of the ruling, Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg warned of an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Ginsberg argued that the special court’s ruling tolerated differing standards from county to county between the general election and the recount.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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