Unofficial results from the November 4th election put Coleman, a freshman Republican senator, just 215 votes ahead of his Democratic challenger, Al Franken, known across the country from his days on Saturday Night Live and from his years as a talk show host on Air America, the progressive radio network. The slim margin for Coleman, far less than one half of one percent, triggered an automatic recount, the first time there's ever been a recount of a US senate race in Minnesota.
Now election officials, at 107 sites across Minnesota, are beginning the long process of recounting all of the ballots. They're surrounded by election observers and lawyers from both campaigns, and the media.
According to the Secretary of State's office, 15.49 percent of the more than 2.9 million votes cast in the election were recounted yesterday. It appears Franken made a dent of 43 votes into Coleman's lead of 215, according to the results posted on the Secretary of State's website. The site also reports that 115 ballots were challenged by Coleman's camp and 106 by Franken's camp.
The recount will extend well into December. The recount sites across Minnesota have a deadline of the first week of December to report their results. After that the state's canvassing board meets to rule on disputed ballots and to certify the election. And after that, if one side is not happy with the results, legal action could be possible.