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Forum staff reports, Published April 07 2009

Senate suit winds down with ballot review

ST. PAUL – A final phase of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate election trial came with its own bit of ballot confusion.

A group of 400 absentee ballots that were to be reviewed for possible counting today was narrowed slightly when local officials said 13 of the ballots already were counted.

After 42 counties responded to the court’s request for ballot documents, the three-judge panel deciding former Sen. Norm Coleman’s election lawsuit today will review that stack of ballots and likely add some votes to the election tally.

Coleman is seeking to overturn Democrat Al Franken’s 225-vote recount victory, but Franken’s lawyers are optimistic his lead will be upheld and Coleman already has signaled an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

As the state-court case is winding down, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Monday legal appeals could delay the seating of Minnesota’s second senator for “a few more months.”