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Franken behind by only 50 votes in recount, his lawyer says

Franken-Coleman recount flash: Marc  Elias, Al Franken's recount lawyer, just said at a news conference in Washington, D.C., that Franken is behind by only 50 votes in his Senate race with Norm Coleman, according to the Franken campaign's analysis.

Elias, in a telephone hookup available for Minnesota journalists, also said that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has directed counties to look for missing ballots. Ritchie's directive comes in response to Elias' request last week.

The 50-vote margin, according to Elias, is based on election judges' calls on ballots at the recount tables.

 That is, even if ballots are challenged in precincts, the Franken camp is counting the original decision at the local level. The assumption is that the State Canvassing Board would likely rule just as a local election official does. The count on the secretary of state's website doesn't account for such an analysis. It simply counts challenged votes.

Ritchie also instructed local officials to begin re-examing absentee ballots that were rejected for unusual reasons. This would amount to the "fifth pile" discussed at last week's State Canvassing Board meeting. But Ritchie was clear: don't count those in the fifth pile . . . at least not yet.

These are absentee ballots that weren't counted for unusual reasons … such as administrative error. There are only four legal reasons to reject absentee ballots, such as bad signatures, no listing of a voter on the registration rolls or a ballot delivered to the wrong precinct.

The Coleman campaign is meeting with the news media shortly.

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