Minn. elections director takes stand in Senate recount trial

3:52 PM, Feb 23, 2009   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- An attorney for Republican Norm Coleman said Monday that his side is on course to finish presenting evidence this week on rejected absentee ballots it wants a special Minnesota court to add to the Senate race count.

If Ben Ginsberg's prediction holds, it would mark a milestone in Coleman's case to overturn Democrat Al Franken's 225-vote advantage following a statewide recount. In the first four weeks of trial, Coleman's team has focused heavily on thousands of still-sealed absentee ballots that Coleman contends were improperly rejected by poll judges.

Ginsberg's prediction means that next week Coleman's team could delve more heavily into other issues in the case, including his request for the court to throw out dozens of votes counted in Democratic strongholds due to alleged election administration irregularities.

Coleman isn't alone in seeking the admission of new absentee ballots. Democrat Al Franken's campaign has identified about 1,600 rejected ballots it believes should receive further consideration. About half of Franken's list overlaps with Coleman's longer roster.

Franken's team has also raised issues with several votes in places that favored Coleman in the election.

Separate from the campaigns, some voters with rejected ballots have banded together to file papers pressing for their inclusion; the court previously agreed about two dozen ballots should be opened and counted.

The pool of uncounted absentee ballots that the three-judge panel ultimately lets in is the largest bloc of votes in play in the case. About 12,000 absentee ballots were rejected around the state for failing to comply with state law, but far fewer are getting renewed attention from the court.

Meanwhile Monday, the court listened to testimony from Gary Poser, the state official who oversaw the recount.

Poser, the elections director in the Minnesota secretary of state's office, was expected to spend much of the day on the witness stand. In the early going, he was being asked about the rules for the recount and procedures for determining voter registration status.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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