From NBC's Carrie Dann and Domenico Montanaro
We noted earlier this week that Norm Coleman's campaign hopes to convince state officials to reconsider about 650 additional rejected absentee ballots in the Minnesota recount, citing a lack of uniformity in county-by-county reviews of the ballots. The Coleman team asked the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday to halt the current counting of the ballots throughout the state and restart it in St. Paul under the watch of both campaigns as well as state officials. Both campaigns are still awaiting word on that decision today.
But what are the 650 additional ballots that Team Coleman would like to see added to the pile? A snapshot from the state's most populous county shows that they apppear to swing heavily in the Republicans' favor.
A First Read analysis of the rejected absentee ballots from Hennepin County that the Norm Coleman campaign wants added to a state review found that 83% of them were from areas of the county that Coleman won in November. Democrat Al Franken won the county by 14 percentage points, 50%-36%.
The Coleman campaign proposed counting 173 additional ballots from Hennepin County, about a quarter of the 650 they want added statewide. But of those 173, 144 are from towns and cities in which Coleman won the majority of votes in the precincts that comprise them.
The Coleman team has repeatedly said that the ballots, which remain sealed, were selected for reconsideration because of inconsistencies in each county's procedure for evaluating rejected absentees.
The Franken campaign also hopes to add a smaller number of rejected absentee ballots to the pile. A spokesperson says that their requested additional ballots -- which originally numbered between 100 and 200 but may have been reduced during the ongoing recount process -- are backed up by evidence from voters that demonstrates why they were improperly rejected.
** UPDATE ** Coleman spokesman Mark Drake sends this response: "The Franken campaign isn't interested in counting all lawful votes. Earlier this week, the Franken campaign admitted they only want to consider the original 1350 rejected absentees because according to Franken attorney Marc Elias, they were 'confident that if all those were counted we would gain even more votes.' This is the same campaign that once claimed to want every vote counted, but now that they have an artificial lead is fine with disenfranchising hundreds of Minnesota voters. We have found hundreds of ballots that were likely rejected improperly, and we are seeking to ensure that the same standards for counting these ballots are applied statewide."