Franken Wins Minnesota Senate Case in Court; Coleman Concedes

Nov. 4 | More than 2.9 million Minnesotans cast votes in the state’s U.S. Senate race – one of the most expensive in the country. Incumbent Republican Norm Coleman led many pre-election polls over with comedian and writer Al Franken, running on the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ticket. Three other candidates were also on the ballot. As the results trickle in, the race is too close to call between Coleman and Franken.

Nov. 5 | With fewer than 475 votes separating him and Franken, Coleman declares victory. The Associated Press called the race for Coleman, but retracted the call later in the day.

Nov. 6 | Coleman urges Franken to waive his right to a mandatory recount, saying it could cost taxpayers about $86,000. Franken refuses.

Nov. 7 | As more votes are counted, Coleman’s lead stands at 239 votes.

Nov. 11 | The campaigns acknowledge that they are amassing attorneys and volunteers to monitor the recount and help with any probable legal challenge.

Nov. 19 | The recount begins in precincts across the state.

Dec. 5 | The recount ends with Coleman leading by 192 votes, but 133 ballots are missing from a Minneapolis precinct and about 5,300 statewide are in dispute. The missing ballots are never found. The pre-recount tally is used instead as the count moves to the state level.

Dec. 19 | After the state canvassing board wraps up a review of ballot challenges from each campaign, Franken takes a 250-vote lead, but thousands of ballot challenges remain unresolved.

Dec. 24 | The state Supreme Court denies a motion by Coleman’s campaign calling for an investigation into whether some ballots were counted twice in the recount.

Jan. 5 | After a two-month recount process, the state canvassing board certifies that Franken got more votes than Coleman.

Jan. 6 | Then-Vice President Dick Cheney swears in new U.S. senators. One Minnesota seat remains vacant. Meanwhile, Coleman announces at a news conference that he is filing a lawsuit over the results of the recount.

Jan. 12 | Franken asks the governor and secretary of state for an election certificate that would enable him to take office in the U.S. Senate. They deny his request, so he asks the Supreme Court to order them to do so.

Jan. 13 | A group of 64 voters files suit in the state Supreme Court to have their votes counted.

Jan. 22 | The Republican Jewish Coalition announces it has hired Coleman as a consultant. Coleman says he needs the paycheck.


Jan. 26 | A three-judge panel of varying political backgrounds begins to hear opening remarks in a challenge brought by Coleman.

Feb. 13 | The judges rule out 12 of 19 separate categories of rejected ballots. The trial picks up speed but Coleman’s number of challenged ballots shrinks to around 2,200.

March 13 |After seven weeks, the trial, which includes more than 2,000 exhibits and 134 witnesses, concludes and the three-judge panel begins to consider its ruling.

April 13 | The judges issue a 68-page order confirming that Franken got more lawfully cast votes than Coleman.

April 20 | Coleman’s lawyers file a notice of appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the order of the three-judge panel that declared Franken the electoral victor.

June 1 | The Minnesota Supreme Court questions attorneys for Franken and Coleman for about an hour. They will determine whether to grant the Coleman legal team’s request to force a lower court to reconsider the three-judge panel’s ruling that Franken won by 312 votes. Franken’s attorneys asked the justices to order Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty to certify a winner. The governor has hedged on whether he’s obligated under state law to sign the election certificate when the court rules. It’s unclear when the justices will rule on the case, but it’s expected to happen relatively quickly. Coleman hasn’t indicated if he would appeal to federal courts if he loses.

June 30 | The Minnesota Supreme Court rules in a unanimous decision that Franken should be certified the winner of the Senate election. Hours later, Coleman concedes, ending the nearly eight-month long recount.