Thursday, November 6, 2008

It’s Minnesota’s Turn

In 2000 it was Florida that captured the nation’s attention over a close election with flaring tempers and accusations of voting irregularities. In 2004 it was Ohio. Now it’s Minnesota’s turn.

Sen. Norm Coleman’s narrow lead over DFL challenger Al Franken in the U.S. Senate race narrowed even more Wednesday, guaranteeing a recount that would be the state’s biggest ever and could stretch well into next month.

Coleman declared victory Wednesday morning, when his unofficial lead over Franken stood at 725 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast, according to the secretary of state’s tally. By the end of the day, as county officials from around the state forwarded adjusted figures to the state, that margin had shrunk to 477 votes.

Early Wednesday, Franken announced his support for a recount, which would be automatic because of the closeness of the vote. He said that his campaign was investigating alleged voting irregularities at some polling places in Minneapolis and that “a recount could change the outcome significantly.”

“Let me be clear: Our goal is to ensure that every vote is properly counted,” he said.

The standoff promised to throw the already long and bitterly contested race into overtime, where the main players will be canvassers and lawyers. The recount involves examining every ballot by hand.

Mr. Coleman, taking his lead from the GOP of 2000, said that Mr. Franken should concede because there’s “too much at stake” to bother with counting all the votes.