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Al Franken Projected to Win Minnesota's Senate Seat

As of 8PM ET, the Minneapolis Star Tribune projected that Franken would finish the recount process with a lead of 89 votes.

Democratic challenger Al Franken finds himself on the cusp of winning a seat in the United States Senate after Minnesota's canvassing board awarded him a host of challenged votes during deliberations on Thursday.

As of 8PM ET, the Minneapolis Star Tribune projected that Franken would finish the recount process with a lead of 89 votes, positioning him to become the 59th Democratic senator in the upcoming Congress.

According to local paper tallies, Franken currently trails Sen. Norm Coleman by a mere five votes, down from the 358-vote margin that the Republican held just last night. The Associated Press had the count even closer, with Coleman ahead by two votes.

The gains came as the canvassing board sifted through hundreds of ballots that Coleman had contested during the recount process. On Friday, the canvassing board will consider another 400 or so Coleman challenges. If the pattern remains consistent, Franken should vault past his opponent to a projected lead of approximately 89 votes, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The process by which the Senate race has come to this stage is often confusing. Coleman held an approximately 200-vote lead after the state went through a hand recount of all ballots. However, there remained approximately 1,500 ballots that one or the other campaign contested (and temporarily removed from the overall vote tally). Coleman challenged about 1,000 of these, Franken the rest.

Sam Stein is a Political Reporter at the Huffington Post, based in Washington, D.C.
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