Ruling Gives Franken Big Lift in Senate Race
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2009 5:33 PM CDT
Former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman listens during the Senate vote recount trial Thursday, March 12, 2009 in St. Paul, Minn.   (AP Photo/Jim Mone,Pool)
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(Newser) – Al Franken may have moved a decisive step closer to the Senate today, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. A three-judge panel ruled that only 400 disputed absentee ballots will be reviewed, making it highly unlikely that Norm Coleman will be able to erase Franken's 225-seat margin in the Minnesota race. Any new ballots deemed eligible will be counted April 7. After that, Coleman is expected to go to the state Supreme Court and possibly the Supreme Court itself.

"We feel pretty good about where we stand," said a lawyer for Franken's campaign. Coleman's lead attorney likened the decision to an early April Fool's Day joke, the Washington Post notes. The Coleman camp wanted far more ballots put into play, and the ruling "gives us no choice but to appeal that order to Minnesota Supreme Court."