We've predicted since Election Day that Al Franken's chances of winning the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota are excellent. News tonight, out of the state where a manual count of the paper ballots began today, may already be bearing out that prediction, though it's far too early to know for sure. Franken, so far, has gained about 30 votes on the incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman on the first day of counting, bring the gap between the two to just 172 votes.
The race was previously determined, by the faulty and easily manipulated ES&S and Diebold ballot-scanning machines initially used to tabulate the paper ballots, to have given an edge of little more than 200 votes in favor of Coleman, out of nearly 3 million ballots cast.
That hasn't stopped Coleman from desperately and prematurely declaring "victory" --- hey, it worked for Dubya in 2000, and he was able to successfully take that to the Supreme Court, after all! --- nor has it kept the GOP conspiracy theorists and potential sore-losers from declaring all manner of unsubstantiated claims of "fraud" and attempts to "steal the election."
But as the hand count moves slowly forward --- and as I may be "off the grid," or otherwise unable to keep up with every beat as quickly as usual over the next several weeks --- I'd ask that you folks keep a very close eye on a very important point likely to reveal itself (to those who pay attention) during this count...