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Downballot: Franken increases lead

MINNESOTA: After counting some 350 absentee ballots yesterday, Al Franken (D) increased his lead over Norm Coleman (R) to 312 votes -- out of 2.9 million votes cast last November.

The Star Tribune: "Not long after a decisive majority of once-rejected absentee ballots were counted and broke for Franken on Tuesday, attorneys on both sides were already jawing over the merits of an appeal in the 10-week-old U.S. Senate recount trial. Coleman spokesman Ben Ginsberg said the three presiding judges erred in permitting only 351 rejected absentee ballots to be counted. 'We will be appealing this to the Minnesota Supreme Court,' he said."

"Franken attorney Marc Elias brushed aside the threat. 'I don't think there is much of a case on appeal at all,' he said."

The New York Times adds that the case before the three-judge panel "is still not over because the panel has to rule on two outstanding issues: Mr. Coleman is trying to have some ballots removed from the total because he says they have been counted twice, and he says that 132 ballots lost in the recount should not be included in the final tally. Regardless of how the panel rules on these issues, Mr. Franken's lawyers say Mr. Coleman cannot gain enough votes to overtake him."

Roll Call: The three-judge panel is expected to rule on those matters, plus which candidate lawfully received the most votes, in the next few days."