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Coleman, Franken campaigns prepare for recount

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Senator Coleman dicusses the election results
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) reacts to a question during a press conference at his campaign headquarters November 5, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Cory Ryan/Getty Images

Coleman's campaign manager sent a letter to county elections officials to keep a continuous, visual guard over the ballots cast in Minnesota's Senate race.

 The letter also asked that they "seal, secure and guard" all ballots relative to the election and that those ballots not be released or viewed by any candidate, campaign or person other than the Secretary of State or others allowed by state law. 

Meanwhile, the campaign manager for Democrat Al Franken sent a request to supporters to fund its so-called Recount fund. The campaign said it plans to put staff members in place in every county in Minnesota to ensure that every vote is properly counted. Minnesota's Canvassing Board is expected to order a recount when it meets on November 18th. A lawsuit could also prompt a judge to oversee the recount. 

With nearly 2.9 million ballots cast, the less than 500 vote difference between the top two candidates of about one one-hundredth of a percentage point.

Al Franken
Al Franken greeted supporters at DFL victory party Tuesday night in downtown St. Paul.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

The unofficial returns are being revised as election officials double-check their figures. 

John Aiken, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, said the big drop Thursday was due to a correction from Pine County. 

Pine County Auditor Cathy Clemmer said Franken's numbers from Partridge Township were entered incorrectly. Franken had 129 votes, but it was entered as 29, Clemmer said.

      "That's what the canvassing board does," Clemmer said of the correction. "The system's working."

The final tally won't be certified until the state canvassing board meets Nov. 18, and an automatic recount awaits.

Meantime, former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger says he won't play a role in the recount after all.

     Coleman's campaign said Wednesday that it had retained Heffelfinger to help oversee the upcoming recount, but Heffelfinger issued a statement Thursday saying he has reconsidered.

      He says taking a leadership role with Coleman's recount team would interfere with his previous commitment to St. Paul to co-chair an independent commission reviewing law enforcement planning and tactics surrounding the Republican National Convention.

Another former U.S. Attorney, David Lillehaug, is advising the Franken campaign. 

 (The Associated Press contributed to this report)