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Coleman camp: We can still win

From NBC's Mark Murray
Yesterday, commenting on Friday's decision by the three-judge panel in Minnesota to throw out most of the categories of rejected absentee ballots that Norm Coleman's campaign was hoping to reopen for a second look, we noted that Coleman's task to overturn Al Franken's 225-vote lead was becoming more and more difficult.

This morning, Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who's working for the Coleman camp, called First Read to argue that the Republican can still prevail in the final count. Ginsberg said the ruling reduced the rejected absentee ballot pool to about 3,500 ballots -- still enough to overturn Franken's lead.

Ginsberg added that Coleman's legal team is pursuing a two-track strategy. One, it's identifying ballots that still haven't been counted. "Ballots are still being found, interestingly enough," he said. And two, it's arguing that the decision to accept some absentee ballots -- but reject others -- presents an "equal protection and elementary fairness" problem.

As the Pioneer Press writes today, "If you lived in Carver County last year and you cast an absentee ballot, county officials checked to make sure your ballot's witness was a registered voter, the county elections manager testified Tuesday in Minnesota's Senate election trial. Your witness was unregistered? Your ballot wasn't counted. If you lived in Scott County, however, and you cast that same ballot with that same unregistered witness, your ballot likely was counted."

But, according to the article, "Franken lawyers contend Minnesota law is clear on what constitutes a legally cast absentee ballot, and the three-judge panel hearing the case has brought even more detail to the law by ruling certain categories of ballots illegal. 'There is one standard, and that is set by Minnesota law,' said Franken attorney Marc Elias. 'They want to expand that into some amorphous principle... That isn't the law, that's never been the law, and it's not a valid equal protection claim.'"

More: "The argument and other court action make Coleman's eventual goal clear, Elias said. 'They are laying the groundwork for an appeal of some sort ... whether it is the state Supreme Court, or the U.S. Supreme Court, or the federal court, I have no idea,' Elias said."