Just in from St. Paul, the 3-judge panel in MN's U.S. Senate Election Contest have returned to issue a ruling...
The ballots appear to include some that Franken had identified as wrongly rejected as well as ballots that Coleman wanted opened in his quest to overcome a 225-vote lead that Franken gained after a recount.
• The court's ruling is posted in full here [PDF]
Al Franken's attorney Marc Elias says: "We are pleased...Obviously, the math is going to be very difficult for former Sen. Coleman and his lawyers at this point."
Former Sen. Norm Coleman's attorney Ben Ginsberg admits: "It is pretty much of a longshot with that few ballots being put in play...We are disappointed. But we feel the court is wrong and we will appeal." During a teleconference this afternoon he strongly hinted they plan to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
Earlier this week, Republican Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (RSCC) threatened "WWIII" if the Democrats seat Franken before they appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary, and even if those appeals take "years."
After reviewing evidence for some 980 previously rejected absentee ballots, as submitted for consideration by both candidates, the judges found that just 400 of them met likely grounds for being opened, counted and added to the final results, though only once they are able to review the actual ballots themselves will they know for certain. They rejected Coleman's plea to use lenient standards for determining which ballots should be counted, holding instead to the strict rule of law, and allowing ballots only for possible counting if they were clearly, legally cast, according to very specific state parameters.
The judges review, they took pains to point out, was exceedingly thorough...