Franken opens first lead in Senate race

ST. PAUL, Minn. - December 19, 2008 - /*Franken*/ opened up a lead as a state Canvassing Board made its way through hundreds of ballots challenged in the race.

Franken gained his advantage as the board weighed challenges by the Coleman campaign. But as many as 5,000 withdrawn challenges from both campaigns won't be awarded until Monday, and the lead could change again.

The board has also rejected a request by Coleman to exclude some ballots his campaign had argued were duplicates.

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty over a potential pool of 1,600 incorrectly rejected absentee ballots, which the Supreme Court said Thursday could be added to the count if the campaigns and election officials can agree on a plan for doing that.

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