Coleman calls Senate race; recount to occur

In one of the most hotly contested, expensive and closest U.S. Senate races this election, Republican incumbent Norm Coleman has declared victory. After a night spent watching precinct reports eke out from the secretary of stateâÄôs office that essentially leveled the race, Democratic challenger Al Franken fell behind by a slight 475 votes , according to secretary of state numbers when all were tallied. âÄúThe senator is thrilled and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve the people of Minnesota for another six years,âÄù read a statement from Coleman spokesman Cullen Sheehan posted Wednesday morning to the campaign website. Still, the margin of ColemanâÄôs presumed victory is small enough âÄî at 0.5 percent âÄî to warrant a recount by state law. The secretary of stateâÄôs office will report to a canvassing committee on Nov. 18 to relay unofficial election results for all Minnesota races, as indicated by pre-recount numbers. The canvassing committee, which includes Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, two Minnesota Supreme Court justices and two District judges, will then review the report and decide whether to validate the unofficial tabulations. âÄúOne of those official results will be for U.S. Senate race,âÄù Ritchie said. âÄúThat official result will indicate the margin will be less than half a percent. That triggers an automatic recount, to begin the following morning.âÄù Local elections officials and representatives from each campaign will comb through individual ballots to ensure votes were recorded as voters intended. Disputed ballots, ones with unclear markings, will face further review by judges. TheyâÄôll also look for human error in reporting original Election Day numbers, and possible missing ballots. Following the recount, the new information âÄî and perhaps a new result âÄî will come before the canvassing board for approval. In a Franken statement issued Wednesday morning, the senatorial hopeful said the ultimate goal is to be sure all votes are properly counted. âÄúWe won’t know for a little while who won this race,âÄù the statement read. âÄúBut at the end of the day, we will know that the voice of the electorate was clearly heard.âÄù Franken hinted that he hasnâÄôt ruled out the possibility of a post-recount senatorial shift. âÄúWe are lucky enough to live in a state with built-in protections to ensure that in close elections like these, the will of the people is accurately reflected in the outcome,âÄù he said. Michael McDonald, an assistant professor of government and politics at George Mason University in Virginia, cautioned against black-and-white thinking. âÄúReally, itâÄôs just a way to make sure that all the iâÄôs are dotted and the tâÄôs are crossed,âÄù he said. Additionally, finding a vote-counting error doesnâÄôt necessarily benefit the candidate whoâÄôs behind. âÄúThat error could be in either direction,âÄù McDonald said. âÄúItâÄôs kind of like rolling dice.âÄù Post-recount predictions, at this point, are futile. Too many things are up in the air, Ritchie said. âÄúThereâÄôs no way to predict the outcome of a recount,âÄù he said. âÄúYou have to do a recount.âÄù