Minn. Court Rules in Favor Of Franken

By Brian Bakst
Associated Press
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 13 -- A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Democrat Al Franken won more votes than Norm Coleman in his Senate race last year against the Republican incumbent, who had already announced plans to appeal the decision.

Coleman has 10 days to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Once the petition is filed, it could leave Minnesota with only one senator for weeks more.

After a statewide recount and a seven-week trial, Franken stands 312 votes ahead. He gained more votes from the election challenge than Coleman, who brought the legal action.

The state law under which Coleman sued required three judges to determine who received the most votes and is therefore entitled to an election certificate, which is on hold pending an appeal.

"The overwhelming weight of the evidence indicates that the November 4, 2008, election was conducted fairly, impartially and accurately," the judges wrote. "There is no evidence of a systematic problem of disenfranchisement in the state's election system, including in its absentee-balloting procedures."

In its order, the judicial panel dismissed two attempts by Coleman to subtract votes from Franken over allegations of mishandled ballots in Minneapolis.

The judges also rejected Coleman's argument that a state board improperly made up for a packet of lost ballots.

The ruling diminishes Coleman's chances of regaining the seat he won in 2002, when he narrowly defeated former vice president Walter Mondale. Democratic incumbent Paul D. Wellstone died in a plane crash with two weeks to go in the campaign.

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