The "drop the challenges" game continued this weekend with perhaps the last push from Al Franken and Norm Coleman before the state Canvassing Board meets tomorrow to go through challenges.
At the very end, Coleman is changing his strategy. The two had been dropping challenges at a similar rate, but now Coleman says he could have close to double the challenges of Franken. It could be a smart strategy since challenges give the candidate a better chance of gaining new votes, but it might not work, the AP says.
Franken said Sunday he would present no more than 500 challenges at Tuesday's meeting of the state Canvassing Board, composed of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and four jurists. Coleman countered by saying he would present no more than 1,000.
The campaigns had lodged more than 3,000 challenges each as part of a statewide hand recount, which got under way after the Nov. 4 vote ended with Coleman leading by 215 votes.The Associated Press analyzed the challenged ballots and found most could be easily assigned intent:
An Associated Press analysis of the more than 5,000 challenged ballots found that most of the votes have clear intent and no deficiencies for which they would be disqualified under Minnesota law. The AP's cataloguing includes many challenges that were later withdrawn by the campaigns and the roughly 3,500 that remained up in the air as of Saturday.
But the AP's analysis found that nearly 300 challenges wouldn't benefit either man because the voter clearly favored a third-party candidate or skipped the race. The AP also found that among challenged ballots that easily could be assigned, Franken netted 200 more votes than Coleman.
But Coleman has withdrawn significantly fewer ballot challenges than Franken -- that is, the pool of challenges that can now be awarded to Franken is larger, and both campaigns announced Sunday that they would withdraw more challenges by Tuesday. Of the remaining challenges, the AP found that only about 1,640 couldn't reliably be awarded to either candidate.
More than 400 possible Franken votes were being held up on grounds that those voters identified their ballots through write-ins, initials, phone numbers or some other distinctive marking. At least 300 possible Coleman votes were in limbo for the same reasons.Coleman also made a court move, announced Friday, to try to make the counting of wrongly rejected absentee votes more consistent, the Star Tribune says.
Coleman's lawyers asked the state Supreme Court to jump in to rule on how absentee votes should be sorted for a possible count in the final tally. The campaign is requesting that the court stop election officials in the counties from counting until the ruling is made.