Franken closer in Senate race
Mower County to hold recount on Monday
By Matthew Stolle
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Neither Norm Coleman or Al Franken appeared to gain significantly in a recount of votes cast in Olmsted County in the race for U.S. Senate, according to an all-day hand tally of 76,000 ballots Wednesday.
But that wasn’t true everywhere. In the DFL stronghold of St. Louis County, Franken gained 23 votes as part of a narrowing of Coleman’s lead from 215 votes to 172 votes, with about 20 percent of the vote recounted statewide.
Olmsted County election officials began their recount at 8:14 a.m. and counted their last ballot at about 9:40 p.m. By the end of the 12-hour marathon, Coleman had 35,316 votes — or 16 fewer votes than the machine-counted total, and Franken had 28,574 votes — or 18 fewer votes. And there were 43 ballots set aside as "challenged" (25 disputed by Coleman observers and 18 by Franken observers).
"There’s really not a lot of movement," said Mark Krupski, Olmsted County director of property records and licensing, as the recount neared the end.
Houston County also finished its recount. There, Coleman lost two votes, dropping to 5,026, and Franken stayed the same, with 4,596. There was 1 Coleman ballot challenged by Franken and 2 Franken ballots challenged by Coleman.
Other southeastern Minnesota counties have scheduled recounts in the coming week, with Fillmore and Wabasha to start today. Mower County is to hold its recount Monday.
The Minnesota secretary of state’s first look at recount figures Wednesday night showed 221 ballot challenges statewide.
Seven counties that completed their recount reported no change in vote totals, though some ballots were challenged. In eight others that completed their recounts, totals for both Coleman and Franken fell.
Many counties that were supposed to start counting Wednesday reported no results or incomplete results to the secretary of state.
Counties and cities have until Dec. 5 to complete the recount, and then it will be up to the state Canvassing Board to rule on challenged ballots, and eventually decide the winner of the race.
As the recount in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race began in Minneap potted a questionable ballot and no one else did.
"I don’t think that’s likely," election director Cindy Reichert said, waving a hand at a bevy of watchdogs encircling the counting table. "I think at least one of these eight eyes will see it, too."
Around the state, election officials began their review of nearly 2.9 million ballots under intense scrutiny from Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.