Franken Campaign to Withdraw Several Hundred Contested Ballots

Al Franken's Senate campaign announced Sunday that it would have fewer than 500 challenges remaining for the state canvassing board to consider when it meets on Tuesday.

The state Canvassing Board -- which is overseeing the Senate recount in the race between Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman -- issued an urgent plea last week for both campaigns to cut down their number of contested ballots.

"In making this pledge, we are taking to heart the good advice of the canvassing board and the best interests of Minnesotans who want to see this process move forward efficiently," Franken communications director Andy Barr said in a statement.

"We have the greatest respect for this process and for the men and women involved in carrying it out, and so we will work overtime between now and Tuesday to do our part. When the board meets on Tuesday, it will have fewer than 500 challenges from our campaign to individually review," Barr's statement continued.

On Friday, Minnesota election officials said Coleman had a 188-vote lead over Franken -- a margin reached after all precincts reported their recount results.

But the latest count does not include disputed absentee ballots, nor does it include thousands of ballot challenges the two campaigns filed. The state Canvassing Board -- led by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie -- was expected to tackle over 3,000 contested ballots when it meets again on Tuesday.

Franken won a pair of victories on Friday when the state Canvassing Board ruled to include as many as 1,500 incorrectly rejected absentee ballots.

The board also opted to recommend use of election night results in a Franken-leaning Minneapolis precinct where 133 ballots went missing, a decision that could have cost him 46 votes if it had gone the other way.

The canvassing board expects to complete its review of all challenged ballots by December 19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.