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Minnesota Senate Race Still Tight As A Drum

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It’s been four days since Election Day, but there’s still no resolution to the Senate race in Minnesota:

The U.S. Senate race in Minnesota is nowhere close to being decided, state officials said yesterday.

The recount in that election will not be completed until mid-December, and even then, a candidate or voter can challenge the outcome, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said. Sen. Norm Coleman (R) held a 239-vote lead over Democrat Al Franken as of late yesterday. That margin of less than 0.5 percentage points triggers an automatic recount under Minnesota law.

Ritchie said he would hope to finish the recount by Dec. 19. But that process cannot begin until the election results are certified Tuesday.

Franken said on Minnesota Public Radio that he will not waive the recount. “This is the closest race in Minnesota history, the closest Senate race and the closest race anywhere in the country. This is just part of the process to make sure every vote is counted,” he said, adding: “Candidates don’t get to decide when an election’s over — voters do.”

Minnesota voters use paper ballots, which will be reviewed first at the local level to determine voter intent, with an elections official and an observer for each candidate on hand, if the candidate so chooses. The votes are tallied, but any ballot that is challenged by an observer will be shipped in a sealed envelope to the state canvassing board, which would begin its recount Dec. 16. The state canvassing board by law consists of two state Supreme Court justices and two district court judges and is chaired by the secretary of state. The board certifies the general-election results.

This morning, the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website shows the gap between Coleman and Franken at 221 votes. The important thing to note is that Coleman’s margin has shrunk every single day since Election Day. If this continues, Franken may be in the lead before the recount starts.