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StarTribune.com - Recount: The Coleman-Franken Brawl Drags On

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Location: Minneapolis - St. Paul, MN


StarTribune.com - Recount: The Coleman-Franken Brawl Drags On

Sen. Norm Coleman's narrow lead over DFL challenger Al Franken in the U.S. Senate race narrowed even more, guaranteeing a recount that would be the state's biggest ever and could stretch well into next month.

By KEVIN DUCHSCHERE, CURT BROWN and PAM LOUWAGIE, Star Tribune staff writers

Sen. Norm Coleman's narrow lead over DFL challenger Al Franken in the U.S. Senate race narrowed even more Wednesday, guaranteeing a recount that would be the state's biggest ever and could stretch well into next month.

Coleman declared victory Wednesday morning, when his unofficial lead over Franken stood at 725 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast, according to the secretary of state's tally. By the end of the day, as county officials from around the state forwarded adjusted figures to the state, that margin had shrunk to 477 votes, and Thursday morning it shrank further, to 438 votes.

Early Wednesday, Franken announced his support for a recount, which would be automatic because of the closeness of the vote. He said that his campaign was investigating alleged voting irregularities at some polling places in Minneapolis and that "a recount could change the outcome significantly."

"Let me be clear: Our goal is to ensure that every vote is properly counted," he said.

The standoff promised to throw the already long and bitterly contested race into overtime, where the main players will be canvassers and lawyers. The recount involves examining every ballot by hand.

Recounts are required in races with a winning margin of less than one-half of 1 percent, although a losing candidate may request that it not go forward. Coleman and Franken each received 42 percent of the vote, and Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley got 15 percent.

A few hours after Franken spoke, Coleman went before relatives, friends and supporters at his campaign headquarters in St. Paul to say he was "humbled and grateful for the victory that the voters gave us last night." His campaign website flashed the word "VICTORY."

Coleman urged Franken to waive his right to a recount, saying that the prospect of changing the result was remote and that a recount would be costly to taxpayers (about $86,000).

"I just think the need for the healing process is so important. ... hopefully, you don't have TV ads during an election recount," Coleman said.


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