Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman Saturday held a slim 120-vote lead over Democratic challenger Al Franken with 61 percent of the race's 2.9 million votes recounted by hand. But 1,525 ballots have been challenged by the candidates, making it likely that Minnesota's five-member elections canvassing board -- which will rule on the disputed ballots -- could hold the key to the election, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
The Canvassing Board includes Democratic Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and four state judges, including chief Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson, a former law partner of GOP Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Ritchie told the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis that 75 percent of the recount was to have been completed by Friday night. He said the Canvassing Board would meet Wednesday to discuss what to do about a request by Franken to consider rejected absentee ballots and count them if it turns out they were improperly rejected.
Ramsey County (St. Paul) Election Manager Joe Mansky told the Star Tribune there was a spike in contested ballots during Friday's recount.
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