Nov. 4: Election Day. Late into the evening, the U.S. Senate race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and DFLer Al Franken is too close to call. After counties check and certify their results over several days, Coleman leads by 215 votes out of 2.9 million cast, triggering a hand recount.
Nov. 19: Recount begins.
Nov. 26: The state Canvassing Board turns down Franken's request to include rejected absentee ballots in the recount, saying the matter is beyond its authority. But the panel leaves open the possibility of sorting rejected ballots in preparation for an anticipated court challenge.
Dec. 2: Secretary of state's office asks county election officials to sort rejected absentee ballots by reasons for rejection, identifying those that may have been turned aside erroneously. Ballots are not to be counted, however.
Dec. 5: The physical hand recounting concludes with Coleman ahead by 192 votes. However, during the recount, many ballots have been challenged by both campaigns and set aside. The Canvassing Board will rule on how to allocate them.
Dec. 18: The Minnesota Supreme Court rules 3-2 that improperly rejected absentee ballots should be identified and counted. The ruling requires both campaigns plus local election officials to agree that a ballot was wrongly disqualified for it to be accepted.
Dec. 22: After the Canvassing Board's review of challenged ballots, Franken has an unofficial lead of 47 votes.
Jan. 3: The secretary of state's office counts 933 absentee ballots that the campaigns agree were wrongly rejected. Franken leads by 225 votes, a result the Canvassing Board certifies two days later.
Jan. 6: Coleman files a lawsuit challenging the results.
Jan. 26: The trial over Coleman's challenge opens before a three-judge panel. Much of his case involves trying to get rejected absentee ballots counted.
April 7: Under the panel's ruling, 351 once-rejected ballots are counted, and Franken's lead grows to 312.