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Minnesota's U.S. Senate recount didn't take time off Saturday, as tabulators and observers turned out at a handful of centers around the state to whittle the stacks of ballots.
By late Saturday, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman had bolstered his lead over DFLer Al Franken. With 68 percent of 2.9 million ballots counted, Coleman's narrow margin grew to 180 votes, a 50 percent jump on his 120-vote lead Friday. Some of that may be attributed to the increased number of Franken ballots challenged by Coleman's campaign, which removes those ballots from the count.
The figures represent a compilation of recount data reported to the secretary of state and gathered by the Star Tribune.
Election night mistakes in Duluth precincts continued to slow the St. Louis County recount. Election officials in the sprawling county had hoped to be done Monday, but that began to look doubtful Saturday.
"There have just been more [logistical] challenges and incidents than we anticipated," said county Elections Director Paul Tynjala.
Several duplicate ballots were discovered missing Saturday from envelopes turned in by Duluth's Precinct 18. Officials decided to delay completing the count until all other Duluth precincts were counted, to see if the paperwork turns up.
In Minneapolis, more than 100 people gathered at a Northeast warehouse building to count the votes. According to precinct results listed on a board near the front desk, Franken was shellacking Coleman in every precinct in the traditional DFL stronghold.
Corlyss Affeldt of Eden Prairie, who works in an insurance agency, said she volunteered as a Coleman observer because "I want to make sure it's right. ... That seems to be the prevailing motivation right now."
Two observers were working for Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota (CEIMN), a nonpartisan group.
"We are not here to intervene, but to keep what's going on public," said coordinator Sarah Martyn Crowell.