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Disputed ballots fall in 3 areas -- challenged ballots, improperly rejected absentee ballots, and incident reports

Marc Elias claims his candidate, Al Franken, leads incumbent U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman by four votes. Elias is busy this week as a state board looks over disputed ballots. Photo by Don Davis, St. Paul Bureau

ST. PAUL - Three general categories of ballots remain disputed in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race.

Challenged ballots: An ever-shrinking number of ballots in which one campaign or the other claimed the voter's intended candidate is not clear. The final number was expected to be less than 1,500 after campaigns withdrew more than 5,000 challenges.

Improperly rejected absentee ballots: While there are four reasons that absentee ballots legally may be rejected, there appear to be something like 1,500 across the state that may have been improperly rejected. The courts may decide if they are counted.

Incident reports: A third category of questioned ballots became much discussed Monday, those revolving around a variety of incidents that one or the other campaign has complained about. For instance, the Coleman campaign says "a couple hundred" votes may have been counted twice after the original ballots were damaged and duplicate ones were produced - with both being counted.