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Coleman-Franken recount: 400 ballots to be opened next week

The three-judge panel in the U.S. Senate election contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken just ordered 400 ballots to be opened. The date is set for April 7 for the ballots to be opened in the state Supreme Court courtroom. More later.

With Franken ahead by 225 votes, Coleman sought to have 1,360 ballots opened. The ruling (PDF) calling for 400 — with many from Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis counties — does not bode well for Coleman. The judges also scolded the Coleman lawyers for not proving their case well enough to include more ballots in this next round of ballot opening.
However, this is not the judges’ final decision. The judges haven’t ruled on the law, and this decision affects only the opening of ballots.
They didn’t address key legal issues dear to the Coleman side, such as whether there were violations of constitutional “equal protection” rights because ballots were counted differently in different counties.

More later.