Recount trial: Judges order a serious blow to Coleman

Yesterday we reported on the three-judge panel's order to consider opening just 400 absentee ballots that were previously uncounted. Everyone seems to know it: This isn't good for Norm Coleman's chances, but who is surprised by this news?

Coleman's team announced shortly after the order that they would appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which will add at least another month to the case. There is no sign Coleman would stop there as he could continue his appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court if he doesn't get his way.

Check out a roundup of details from yesterday's news below.

The Pioneer Press

points out the nearly impossible chance that Coleman could win the case without an appeal. If all 400 votes were counted, Coleman would have to win nearly 80 percent of the votes to overcome Al Franken's 225-vote lead.

Making this decision wasn't an easy task.

"During its deliberation, the court reviewed 19,181 pages of filings. 1,717 individual exhibits. Testimony from 142 witness examinations. The trial evidence comprised exhibits offered in three-ring binders that, when stacked, equaled over 21 feet of paper copies. The court carefully reviewed each absentee ballot on a ballot-by-ballot basis to determine whether sufficient individualized evidence had been presented," the court said.

Franken also has the advantage in the ballots that are being reviewed, the PiPress reports. Almost 150 names were on Franken's ballot list and 125 were from Coleman's. Fifty of the ballots were on both of their lists. The remaining were not found on their lists.

Other news organizations are echoing Franken's chances. The New York Times calls the ruling "potentially decisive".

The response of the candidate's teams:

"We feel pretty good about where we stand," Marc Elias, a lawyer for Mr. Franken, said in a conference call with reporters. "But we're going to wait until Tuesday for these ballots to be opened and counted."

But Mr. Elias observed that "the math is the math."

Ben Ginsberg, a lawyer for Mr. Coleman, disagreed sharply with the court's ruling. "I just think they're wrong," he said. "I think it's wrong to disenfranchise voters. I think it's fundamentally wrong to sweep the problems of this election under the rug."

So what's next?

April 6: Local governments must send the requested ballots to the Secretary of State's office by noon.

April 7: The ballots found to be valid will be opened and counted at 9:30 a.m. The judges will use those numbers to make their final ruling.

The loser has 10 days after the ruling to file an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The appeal brief is due 15 days after that.

The state will not give the winner an election certificate until after that appeal is complete.

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