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Franken-Coleman recount: Quick updates and more ballot withdrawals

Withdrawn challenged ballots: Lawyer Fritz Knaak announced that the Norm Coleman campaign is withdrawing 475 more challenges today, bringing his side’s total to 1,125. Al Franken’s campaign has withdrawn 1,058 so far.

A meeting?: Knaak said a meeting with Franken lawyer Marc Elias could be on the agenda for some time this week to haggle over challenged ballots, but he couldn't confirm when.

Elias, who is always happy to answer questions, declined comment on when or whether a meeting will occur.

Educated guess: A meeting is on tap, and more challenges will be dropped soon.

The missing 133: There seems to be a dispute brewing over whether, in fact, those 133 votes should be counted.

Knaak said this morning: "Our take on it is you can't count ballots if you don't know they existed or not … We’ll have more to say on this … There’s a legal analysis to be had … I think in the past in Minnesota they have not been counted,” Knaak said of election machine tapes in the event of lost ballots.

Elias countered: "These ballots are missing, period.”

He said, in the absence of the ballots, the canvass of the Election Night voting is the “next best evidence.”

Elias alluded to an analysis at the conservative Weekly Standard.com site that supports the Franken point of view on math of the lost ballots and why it’s unlikely the 133 people/votes never existed.

Countering Knaak, Elias said, “My understanding of the past precedent [in Minnesota] is that you can revert back to the certified results … There is precedent throughout the country that goes back literally over a century … I’m confident that’s what the canvassing board will do,” he said of including the 133 votes.

Franken’s lead: The lead that Elias claims Franken holds of four votes – in Elias’ method – only stands if those 133 ballots are counted.

The Canvassing Board meets Friday to discuss if improperly rejected absentee ballots should be counted. The issue of the 133 votes may come up, although Knaak thought it unlikely.

The board meets again next Tuesday to begin examining challenged ballots. Depending on how many challenged ballots are still on the table, that could take a few days.

Then the legal fun begins.

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