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Franken campaign seeks election certificate

ST. PAUL -- Al Franken's campaign wants him granted an election certificate even as Minnesota's U.S. Senate results are challenged in court. That certificate could allow him to be seated in the Senate.

The Franken campaign sent a letter today to Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie asking for their signatures on an election certificate by the end of the day.

Ritchie said in a statement he will not do that and Pawlenty has said he can't.

The state Canvassing Board last week certified results in the Senate recount. Franken emerged from the recount with 225 more votes than Republican Norm Coleman. State law says an election certificate cannot be issued until seven days after the election results are certified. If the results are contested in court, an election certificate cannot be issued until after the lawsuit plays out, according to state law.

When a reporter asked Pawlenty last week whether he would consider signing a Franken election certificate, he said: "I can't."

Pawlenty said he could not sign the certificate until court action was completed.

However, Pawlenty added, he was checking with the attorney general's office for more information.

"Even if the governor issues a certificate of election prior to the conclusion of the contest phase, I will not sign it," said Ritchie, a Democrat.

Franken attorney Marc Elias said the campaign believes that under federal law and the U.S. Constitution, the governor and secretary of state are obligated to issue an election certificate. The court challenge still can go forward, he said.

"Minnesota ought to have two senators pending the resolution of a contest," Elias said.

Elias said the campaign would not rule out taking the matter to the Minnesota Supreme Court if Franken is not given an election certificate. For today, he said, the campaign will "trust that the governor will want to do the right thing."