Al Franken Wins Minnesota Senate Seat

The state court upheld a decision that Al Franken beat Norm Coleman by 312 votes.


The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Democrat Al Franken today, putting an end to a drawn-out U.S. Senate race.

The 5-to-0 decision means that Franken, a former Saturday Night Live star, will become the 60th U.S. senator to caucus with the Democrats.

The court upheld a decision by a three-judge panel in April that found that Franken defeated his opponent, Republican Norm Coleman, in the race by 312 votes after officials recounted previously rejected absentee ballots in the November election.

Coleman conceded the race to Franken a few hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision. "Ours is a government of laws, not men and women," Coleman said at a news conference. "The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken, I respect its decision, and I will abide by its results."

Shortly after, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, agreed to sign the election certificate today.

With Franken, the Democrats would have the 60-seat majority they need to overcome Republican filibusters and push their agenda through Congress.

Coleman argued that local election officials around the state unfairly rejected thousands of absentee ballots. He claimed that election officials' use of different standards for counting these ballots in different locales violated the Constitution's equal protection guarantees.

The court ruled otherwise, writing that "because the legislature established absentee voting as an optional method of voting, voters choosing to use that method are required to comply with the statutory provisions."