A Ramsey County judge on Saturday denied a bid by lawyers representing U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign to delay the opening of 32 absentee ballots from Minneapolis.
The request touched off a fresh war of words in a Senate race where 221 votes separate Republican Coleman and DFLer Al Franken in unofficial tallies.
The 32 Minneapolis ballots were part of the normal delivery of absentee ballots late in the polling day, according to Election Director Cindy Reichert.
She said they were retained when they couldn't be delivered because some polling places had shut down for the day. She said the ballots were kept sealed until other election duties were completed and were being counted Saturday afternoon, with results to be delivered to the state on Monday.
However, the Coleman campaign contended that the integrity of the ballots "is in serious doubt." Its argument for a temporary restraining order was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds by Kathleen Gearin, chief district court judge in Ramsey County.
The Franken campaign accused Coleman of a "Saturday morning sneak attack" intended to short-circuit the counting of ballots. But Coleman's campaign said it merely wanted to delay the opening until it could be assured in a future hearing that the ballots were in the continuous possession of election officials.