Franken Rebuffed In Attempt To Take Senate Seat

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Al Franken, who emerged from the drawn-out Minnesota Senate recount with a 225 vote lead over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, was turned down today in his effort to secure an election certificate that would have allowed him to be seated in the Senate.

Franken's lawyers asked Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for the certificate, arguing that the federally-dictated seven-day waiting period for issuing it following the election had passed. But as the Associated Press reports, they were told that such a certificate could not be issued since state law allows Coleman to take the matter to the courts before a winner is certified.

"Minnesota law is very clear on when a certificate of election can be issued," Ritchie said. "Neither the governor nor I may sign a certificate of election in the U.S. Senate race until all election contests have reached a final determination. Even if the governor issues a certificate of election prior to the conclusion of the contest phase, I will not sign it."

Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan released a statement condemning Franken's request.

"Al Franken's outrageous attempt to seat himself in the U.S. Senate without an election certificate is an insult to Minnesotans and all those who believe in the rule of law," he said. "While Franken has unfairly been the beneficiary of double-counted votes, 'missing' ballots, and inconsistent standards regarding absentee ballots, he's clearly concerned he will lose his artificial lead as this process moves forward."

Coleman's efforts to close the gap with Franken, meanwhile, are causing considerable consternation among elections officials in Minnesota counties, according to the Star-Tribune.

Coleman's legal team "has begun pressing some Minnesota counties for documents on hundreds of thousands of ballots that were not previously disputed," the newspaper reports. The requests have meant that counties have been asked to produce tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper, and frustration seems to be growing.

Writes the Trib: "Coleman's new strategy comes as some elections officials are expressing skepticism over his campaign's unproven assumptions that some votes were counted twice and that some absentee ballots were wrongly rejected or accepted."

But Coleman's lawers are undaunted.

"Anecdotally and otherwise, we have what we consider to be a reasonable basis, a very reasonable basis, to proceed with this on the expectation that we will see more votes," Coleman lawyer Fritz Knaak said.

Also today, Minnesota Democrats filed suit against Coleman and the Republican National Lawyers Association.

They allege that "the RNLA is funding Coleman's recount committee with illegal contributions in excess of legal limits; the RNLA is funding Coleman's recount committee with illegal contributions from corporations; the RNLA has failed to register with the FEC, as its contributions to Coleman's recount require it to; and Coleman has failed to report any contributions from the RNLA."

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