Who's winning recount? Watch for clues

  • Article by: Dennis J. McGrath
  • Star Tribune
  • November 20, 2008 - 12:09 PM

Fifty counties and cities began the U.S. Senate recount Wednesday, today, and nearly 30 more joined the fray today. While these early results won't decide the winner of the contest, it's possible that some clues will emerge.

Here's what to keep an eye on.

First, mind the gap.

The margin between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken begans at 215 votes in Coleman's favor.

If that gap starts moving consistently in one direction, it could be an indication of things to come. Perhaps just as important, watch the number of challenged ballots -- and who has challenged them.

If a Coleman or a Franken representative challenges the recount official's ruling on a ballot, then the ballot will be sent to the state Canvassing Board for a final review. The challenged ballots will be kept in two piles -- one for ballots challenged by Coleman's team and one for ballots challenged by Franken's team.

Watch who's challenging more ballots -- and whether the total number of challenges, and the challenges by each candidate, exceeds the gap. If the number of challenged ballots falls short of the size of the gap when all of the recount sites have finished their work, then even when they're reviewed by the Canvassing Board they won't change the outcome.

Another thing to watch is where the recount vote is coming from. All of the heaviest Democratic areas of the state -- Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Louis County -- began the recount Wednesday. That means that the counties that will start Thursday, on Monday or later will be more Republican.

And the last ones to count -- Dodge and Le Sueur on Dec. 1; Rock, Scott, Winona and Wright on Dec. 3 -- went strongly for Coleman, with the exception of Winona, which backed Franken.

Finally, the wild card is the question of absentee ballots. Franken is seeking to have rejected absentee ballots reviewed to see if they were properly or improperly rejected. If he prevails, that could add thousands of potential votes into the mix.


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