Franken Wins Minnesota Senate Seat, State Supreme Court Rules

It's been 239 days since Minnesota voters headed to the polls to vote for a U.S. Senator. In that time, Barack Obama filled his Cabinet (including three Commerce Secretary nominations), Caroline Kennedy considered and declined the chance to become a U.S. Senator, Congress passed a whopping $787 billion stimulus package, Arlen Specter became a Democrat, and Michelle Obama planted and harvested a White House vegetable garden.

"We've always said that Norm Coleman deserved his day in court, and he got eight months. Now we expect Governor Pawlenty to do the right thing, follow the law, and sign the election certificate," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Gov. Pawlenty issued a statement this afternoon indicating he is ready to sign the election certificate. "In light of [the court] decision and Senator Coleman's announcement that he will not be pursuing an appeal, I will be signing the election certificate today as directed by the court and applicable law," said Pawlenty.

It appears the court ruled that Gov. Pawlenty should do just that. "We affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled. . . to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota," wrote the court in its ruling today.

Sen. Coleman, R-Minn., found himself ahead of Franken by 215 votes at the conclusion of the vote canvass in mid-November 2008. The margin between the two candidates was less than one half of one percent, which automatically triggered a recount.

At the conclusion of the recount in January 2009, Franken had overtaken Coleman's lead and the Minnesota State Canvassing Board certified the election results with a 225 vote victory for the Democrat.

The next day, the Coleman campaign filed a lawsuit in Minnesota state court contesting the results of the election. The three judge panel that heard the Coleman contest allowed for consideration of only about 400 wrongly rejected absentee ballots. Coleman's legal team had argued for a far wider universe of thousands of absentee ballots to be reexamined because of what the Coleman campaign believed to be different treatment of absentees in different counties.

It was this decision to limit the scope of consideration to just 400 absentee ballots that served as a definitive blow to the Coleman campaign.

At the conclusion of the three-judge panel's work, it declared Al Franken the top vote-getter by a margin of 312 votes.

The Coleman campaign appealed the three-judge panel ruling to the full Minnesota Supreme Court which heard oral arguments in the case on June 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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