Now it comes down to five votes.
Almost seven months after a U.S. Senate election that was too close to call, five justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on whether problems with absentee ballots justify reversing a lower-court ruling that declared DFLer Al Franken a 312-vote winner over Republican Norm Coleman.
Partisans across America will be watching, pronouncing judgment on a thousand blogs. The case may cast a blinding national spotlight on the state Supreme Court.
A decision upholding the lower-court ruling could end the protracted struggle and allow Franken to join the Senate, giving Democrats an invincible majority. A ruling for Coleman wouldn't return him to the Senate, but could keep his hopes alive and delay a final decision for months.
Minnesotans want the dispute to end, recent polls show. Most people say Coleman should concede. Nearly two-thirds believe that Franken ultimately will be declared the winner.