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Scott Wente, Published February 18 2009

U.S. SENATE TRIAL: Judges won't rethink position on rejecting some absentee ballots

ST. PAUL – Judges presiding over the U.S. Senate election trial will not reconsider a decision to block some rejected absentee ballots from being reviewed for possible counting.

The three-judge panel this morning rejected Norm Coleman’s request that the court reverse its ruling last week blocking at least 10 categories of ballots from being included in the trial. The court had said those ballots cannot be counted because they were not legally cast.

Coleman, a Republican who is challenging the election results showing Democrat Al Franken won by 225 votes, argued that the judges should reconsider their decision because similar ballots already have been included in the election tally.

“If the court maintains the standards set forth in that ruling, it will serve only to further exacerbate inconsistencies and inequities in the process and the already-existing equal protection problem,” Coleman argued.

Franken’s campaign disagreed with Coleman’s request.

The start of the trial’s 18th day was delayed a bit this morning as the judges met with campaign attorneys behind closed doors to discuss scheduling issues.

A Scott County election official returned to the witness stand when the trial got under way.

Wente works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or swente@forumcomm.com

For updates check back to www.inforum.com and for more details read Thursday's Forum.