ST. PAUL, Minn., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Supreme Court Wednesday ruled against U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman in his ongoing fight to prevent Democrat Al Franken from taking his seat.
The Republican incumbent had asked the state's highest court to force the Minnesota Canvassing Board to take up the issue of alleged double-counting of ballots in the recount of the Nov. 4 election. The Supreme Court said the Coleman campaign's challenge of the 130-150 ballots in heavily Democratic precincts is better left to a court hearing where evidence can be presented, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
While the Franken camp reacted in a brief statement by pronouncing "We win in Supreme Court," Coleman's campaign had no immediate response, the Star Tribune said.
Separately, the high court extended the deadline to Jan. 2 for local elections officials and the Coleman and Franken forces to identify improperly rejected absentee ballots and send them to the state for counting. The secretary of state will have until Jan. 4 to open and count them. Coleman and Franken will then have the opportunity to challenge how those ballots are allocated, beginning Jan. 5.
The deadline for the local election officials previously had been Dec. 31.
Unofficial results now show Franken with a lead of 47 votes in the recount. Nearly 3 million votes were cast in the election, with Coleman leading by a couple of hundred votes in the initial counting.
The U.S. Senate convenes Jan. 6, regardless of whether or not the Minnesota seat is decided.