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Coleman-Franken recount trial: Judges move to narrow the scope of the trial

After 12 days of trial and the review of hundreds of ballots via voter and election official testimony, the three-judge panel in the Norm Coleman-Al Franken election contest issued a sweeping order (PDF) tonight.Judges Denise Reilly, Kurt Marben and

After 12 days of trial and the review of hundreds of ballots via voter and election official testimony, the three-judge panel in the Norm Coleman-Al Franken election contest issued a sweeping order (PDF) tonight.

Judges Denise Reilly, Kurt Marben and Elizabeth Hayden ordered lawyers for Coleman and Franken to file briefs Wednesday and to be prepared for oral arguments Thursday on whether 19 distinct categories of absentee ballots were or were not legally cast.

If and when the judges narrow the scope of which ballots were legally cast, that will go a long way to expediting the end of the trial and a decision on the recount.

Among the categories:

• Ballots in which proof of residence aren’t checked by witnesses;

• Ballots with differing addresses on the absentee ballot application and the ballot itself;

• Ballots that were rejected because of varying kinds of election official error;

• Ballots cast by voters not registered in the precinct in which the voter resides.

There are 15 more very narrow categories, but enough to cover hundreds of ballots.

More on this tomorrow at MinnPost, but, clearly, the judges are poised to rein in the parameters of which ballots of Coleman’s 4,800 or so will be considered and, with that, the length of this trial.