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Coleman's chances down to 387 ballots

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At 9:30 a.m. this morning, state Elections Director Gary Poser will start what should be the last count in Minnesota epic recount to figure out who will be our next senator. The three-judge panel will watch the counting, which has come down to just 387 ballots.

Norm Coleman's legal team is confident these ballots won't overturn Al Franken's 225-vote lead and they will be filing an appeal shortly after a ruling in the next couple days. The pile was originally 400 votes, but 13 of those were already counted and taken off the list.

The Secretary of State's office received the last of the 400 ballots requested yesterday, some being driven and hand-delivered to the office. The judges analyzed the envelopes of the ballots to find any that should be removed prior to opening.

Once opened, the outside envelopes with the voters' names will be separated from the ballot and each one will be sorted based on their Senate candidate choice. The judges should have a final count by noon, which the judges will add to the final candidate tallies. The panel has several other issues to resolve in the coming days before presenting a filing ruling.

Both campaigns made their statements before the big count, citing their longstanding opinions on the case and it's final outcome. In the Star Tribune:

"I would expect either side would appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court," said Ginsberg, who earned his chops on the nation's most celebrated recount, Bush vs. Gore in 2000. A decision by the three-judge panel in mid-February to more strictly define which ballots could be counted changed the outcome of the Senate race, Ginsberg said. "It helped the Franken campaign, hurt the Coleman campaign and disenfranchised thousands of Minnesotans."

In an e-mail to Franken supporters, lead Franken recount attorney Marc Elias said that "although Coleman is likely to appeal in the hopes of finding a venue less picky about the rule of law, our analysis shows that the meticulousness of the court's procedure and ruling would make such an appeal a difficult proposition."