The recount is complete.
Both Sen. Norm Coleman and DFLer Al Franken shed a few votes during the Crow Wing County recount of the U.S. Senate race. The recount was complete about 11:15 a.m. Friday, the second day of the recount here. Twenty-two ballots were challenged and the fate of those votes will be determined by the state canvassing board. Eight ballots for Coleman were challenged by Franken representatives and 14 ballots for Franken were challenged by the Coleman representatives.
From the totals on Election Day, the recount shows Coleman lost five votes and Franken lost seven votes. The majority of the 22 challenged ballots were absentee ballots.
In one case, the voter filled in the oval for Coleman with a pencil and made a mark too light for the tabulating machine. Crow Wing County Auditor Deborah Erickson determined the vote was for Coleman. The Franken observers challenged that ballot.
In most cases, the challenges came on ballots considered an overvote, where marks indicated two candidates, or from an undervote where a mark didn't register for any candidate in the Senate race. Some challenges were resolved at the counting tables as observers for both candidates agreed with the auditor's decision and challenges were withdrawn on the spot.
Out of the entire recount one ballot was unaccounted for as one precinct indicated there were 1,325 votes but the hand count registered one less. Erickson said usually that kind of discrepancy comes when a ballot is jammed in the tabulating machine and when it is cleared the election judge is unsure whether it was counted during the misfeed.
The recount total now shows 16,098 ballots for Coleman in Crow Wing County and 13,018 for Franken. On Election Day, Coleman had 16,103 votes and Franken had 13,025. The state recount must be completed by Dec. 5 and the state canvassing board will meet Dec. 16 to rule on challenged ballots. In a race where the vote difference between the candidates stands on a statistical razor's edge, there is a stake in every challenged ballot.
For Erickson, the process reaffirmed the system works.
"I really feel our recount process proves our election judges do a really good job," Erickson said.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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