Aides to Al Franken's campaign said on Friday that the deficit they face against Norm Coleman in their Senate recount is now less than 100 votes.
"It is fair to say that Norm Coleman's lead is now in the double digits," said Marc Elias, a lawyer for the campaign. He added, more optimistically that, "there are more Democratic areas with votes left to be counted than Republican."
The Franken math is not official. They are basing their findings both on the 51.1 percent of the state-wide recount that they have completed, but which is not reported by the Secretary of State, as well as a portion of the 800-or-so contested ballots that they believe will be easily resolved.
The dwindling margin separating the two camps, however, is making for high political drama. If Franken's numbers are to be believed, the Democratic challenger has more than halved his deficit with just over half the recount completed. The election, in short, could be decided by a single digit difference, though there is no telling if the margin will continue to close at the same pace.
All of which has upped the ante when it comes to contesting each and every vote. For the first time since the recount commenced, aides to Franken made a specific example of what they thought was a concerted effort by the Coleman campaign to frivolously challenge very specific ballots. Holding up sample ballots for members of the press, Elias noted that on ten separate occasions the Minnesota Republican had contested votes simply because the individual backed both John McCain and Al Franken.
"It must be heartbreaking that there were people who voted for John McCain and not Norm Coleman," he said. Elias went on to note that each side had likely challenged many ballots where the intent of the voter was clear. But in this instance, he added, the Coleman campaign's challenges seemed "more pattern-istic than over-exuberant."
If, in fact, the election boils down to a matter of determining the intent of a handful of voters, observers say that the campaigns could resort to court order for what would be, in effect, a second recount. In this instance, the Court would look at a much narrower batch of ballots and -- ostensibly -- have a specific set of standards for counting for whom the vote was determined.