ST. PAUL, Minn., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Minnesota's State Canvassing Board said Tuesday it will meet to decide on the final vote totals in the U.S. Senate race Jan. 6, the date the new session starts.
Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Al Franken, the Democratic challenger who became a celebrity through his work on "Saturday Night Live," remain separated by a handful of votes among nearly 3 million cast Nov. 4. The board said it has meetings scheduled for Dec. 30, Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said the board is not concerned with "Washington considerations" or "time lines." That means the new U.S. Senate session will start without a junior senator from Minnesota.
While Coleman led, if only by a whisker on election night and for weeks thereafter Franken recently pulled into the lead as the board began dealing with challenged ballots during the state-mandated recount. Both candidates have promised court fights if the other is declared the winner.
On Tuesday, the canvassing board refused to take another look at 48 challenged ballots that it had ruled could be counted. The request came from the Coleman camp.