The state Canvassing Board was poised to certify the results of the recount in Minnesota’s grueling Senate election in Al Franken’s favor — but that doesn’t mean the race is definitely over.
The board was to meet Monday and was expected to declare which candidate received the most overall votes from nearly 3 million ballots cast. The latest numbers showed Franken, a Democrat, with a 225-vote lead over Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who led Franken on election night.
But after the announcement, there will be a seven-day waiting period before an election certificate is completed. If any lawsuits are filed during that waiting period, certification is conditional until the issue is settled in court.
Lawyers for both campaigns have laid the groundwork for lawsuits through public comments and legal maneuvering. In recent weeks, as Franken clung to a small lead, Coleman’s lawyers promised a lawsuit over their claim that some ballots duplicated on election night wound up being counted twice in the recount.
The Coleman campaign also has a petition pending before the state Supreme Court to include 650 ballots that it says were improperly rejected but not forwarded by local officials to St. Paul for counting.
The court has not said when it would rule in that case.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who until recently was the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Sunday that Franken had won the election.
"While there are still possible legal issues that will run their course, there is no longer any doubt who will be the next Senator from Minnesota," Schumer said. "With the Senate set to begin meeting on Tuesday to address the important issues facing the nation, it is crucial that Minnesota’s seat not remain empty, and I hope this process will resolve itself as soon as possible."
Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called Schumer’s comments premature and troubling, since Schumer is the new chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over contested elections.
"Senator Schumer will likely play a key role in determining who ultimately assumes this Senate seat," Cornyn said. "Pre-judging the outcome while litigation is still pending calls into question his ability to impartially preside over this matter when it comes before the Committee, as it most certainly will."
Coleman’s term as senator officially expired Saturday.
Senate Republican leaders have said the chamber shouldn’t seat Franken until all legal matters are settled, even if that drags on for months.
Franken campaign spokesman Andy Barr said in an e-mail Sunday: "In terms of future planning, we’re taking it one step at a time. The next step is the canvass board’s meeting tomorrow, where we have every expectation they will declare that Al won the election."
On the Net:
Minnesota Secretary of State: http://www.sos.state.mn.us