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Franken Now Down By 237 Votes

My favorite Senate candidate of this election cycle is Al Franken, an extremely smart, wonky moderate who's been wildly misunderstood (as I argued in a recent article for Slate.) Franken was slightly behind his opponent on election night, and his opponent, Norm Coleman, has oh-so-earnestly called on Franken to waive his right to an automatic recount so as to spare Minnesota taxpayers the expense (which is expected to be under $90,000.) Fraken has politely declined. And as counties retabulate the vote totals the margin keeps dropping. The deficit now stands at 237 votes - -and this is before the recount has begun.

News reports indicate that Minnesota uses optical scan ballots. From my recollection from the Florida recount, these have a very low rate of machine failure. For that reason, the Gore-Lieberman team didn't think optical-scan counties would yield many votes. However, they turned out to produced one of the largest troves of votes, because, of the ballots that didn't register a preference, the voter's intent was clear a high percentage of the time. (You had a lot of ballots where the voter checked the Gore box and wrote in Gore's name, which registered as an "overvote" and wasn't counted by the machine, but could easily be counted by hand.) I'm going off memory here -- I'd like to see somebody dig into this more. (I'm looking at you,

--Jonathan Chait