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Franken won't waive recount

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. PAUL - Democrat Al Franken said this morning he will not waive a state recount in the U.S. Senate race, citing a narrowing margin between himself and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman as ballots are reviewed.

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"This is just part of the process to make sure every vote is counted fairly," Franken told Minnesota Public Radio.

State and local election officials are preparing to recount the nearly 2.9 million ballots cast in Tuesday's contest, which put Coleman on top by a slim margin.

The latest unofficial results from Minnesota's secretary of state show Coleman beat Franken by 438 votes, down from more than 700 votes early Wednesday. The results give Coleman 41.99 percent to Franken's 41.98 percent.

State law mandates a recount when election results show the margin of victory within 0.5 percent, though a candidate can waive the state-paid recount.

Also today, former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger backed away from leading the Coleman campaign's recount oversight. The campaign had announced Wednesday evening Heffelfinger would lead the effort.

But Heffelfinger, a Republican, said he already was committed to overseeing the city of St. Paul's review of law enforcement practices during the Republican National Convention.

"I have realized that taking a leadership role with Sen. Coleman's recount team would interfere with my commitment to the city and the RNC inquiry," Heffelfinger said in a statement.

Coleman's campaign is expected to name a replacement today.

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