ST. PAUL, Minn. — Victory in Minnesota's drawn-out Senate race has moved within Democrat Al Franken's grasp as he pushes his lead over Republican Norm Coleman to 225 votes with the two-month recount all but complete.
Unless Coleman wins a pending court petition that seeks to add hundreds more ballots to the recount, the counting is done and a state board can sign off on the result Monday or Tuesday. The result cannot be certified for at least one more week under state law.
Coleman's term as senator officially expired Saturday.
Franken netted 176 votes more than Coleman on Saturday in a review of the formerly sealed absentee ballots after coming in with a 49-vote advantage at the end of the statewide recount. The ballots didn't get counted on Election Day.
Minnesota law lets the losing candidate file an "election contest" that would throw the whole race into the courts, effectively blocking final certification of a new senator.
"I'd say it's close to inevitable" that the losing candidate will sue, said Edward Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University who has closely monitored the Minnesota recount.
After the Canvassing Board names a winner, the losing candidate has seven days to file a lawsuit.