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Franken, Coleman campaigns reduce challenges

  • Article by: HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA
  • Star Tribune
  • December 14, 2008 - 9:50 PM

Al Franken's campaign on Sunday pledged to reduce the number of ballots it is challenging to fewer than 500 in the U.S. Senate race against GOP Sen. Norm Coleman.

Meanwhile, the Coleman campaign said it will reduce the number of its challenges by more than half, to fewer than 1,000.

Both camps, which between them had questioned more than 6,000 ballots from the Nov. 4 election, said they are reducing challenges after the state Canvassing Board asked them to do so on Friday.

Both men had more than 2,000 active challenges pending, with Franken having more than 2,200. His campaign said that figure would drop to under 500 by Tuesday.

Coleman's campaign had fewer challenges, but also pledged smaller reductions. The incumbent had about 2,000 challenges active; a spokesman said Sunday that that number will drop by more than half, to under 1,000.

Fritz Knaak, a Coleman lawyer, said in a prepared statement that while the campaign still has concerns about the standards used to challenge the ballots, it will nonetheless reduce its challenge numbers.

Franken spokesman Andy Barr said the campaign is not overly concerned that by dropping more challenges than Coleman it might be at a disadvantage.

Barr said that Franken has a greater chance of picking up votes than Coleman right now. "We will gain votes," he said.

As evidence, he pointed to a study by the Associated Press of more than 5,000 challenged ballots, including all of those still being contested as of the weekend.

The AP concluded that Franken stands to gain about 200 votes on Coleman, enough to put him ahead, because the unofficial count has Coleman up by about 192 votes as of Sunday.

Barr said the AP numbers conform to their analysis.

Coleman spokesman Mark Drake had this response: "Our internal analysis differs substantially and ... we are confident of the outcome of the recount process."

Heron Marquez Estrada • 612-673-4280

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