Ballot Review Continues

Local election officials and representatives for Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken continued reviewing improperly rejected absentee ballots today, deciding which should be opened and counted.

The unofficial recount tally from the secretary of state’s office shows Franken leading Coleman by 49 votes — 1,211,950 to 1,211,901.

The absentee ballot reviews are taking place at meetings around the state. Officials this morning were reviewing 172 Dakota County ballots at a Hastings meeting site, the Hastings Star-Gazette reported. After an hour and a half, the campaigns had rejected 18 from that stack that local officials identified as improperly rejected, meaning those will not be counted. Of 25 Scott County absentee ballots also considered at the Hastings site, 14 were accepted and 11 rejected.

Either campaign can dispute a ballot local election officials said was improperly rejected.

State law allows absentee ballots to be rejected for four reasons, but officials and the campaigns say some were wrongly held from the Nov. 4 election count. The four lawful reasons for rejection are:

— the voter’s name and address on the return envelope don’t match that information on the ballot application

— the voter’s signatures on the return envelope and application do not match or a proper witness signature is not provided

— the voter is not registered or did not include a voter registration card

— the voter already cast a ballot or died

All of the sealed improperly rejected absentee ballots that election officials and the two campaigns agree should be opened and counted must be submitted to the secretary of state’s office by Friday.