The recount ends (but not really) in Minnesota

THE RECOUNT ENDS (BUT NOT REALLY) IN MINNESOTA…. The good news is, the statewide recount of the unresolved Senate race in Minnesota ended this afternoon. The bad news is, the resolution of this contest is still quite a ways off.

At 11:29 a.m., Wright County maintenance worker Allen Buskey pushed a cart with 10 boxes of ballots into Room 217 at the county government center in Buffalo and locked up the last of the 2.9 million ballots recounted since Nov. 19.

“We’re done,” said state elections director Gary Poser, after putting stickers on the 21st challenged ballot from the Wright County town of Montrose.

Well, some folks are done. There are still the 133 missing ballots from Minneapolis, and more importantly, there are thousands of challenged ballots that will be reviewed by the state Canvassing Board starting on Dec. 16. Likely court fights suggest even that phase won’t actually end the contest.

Who’s winning at this point? According to the latest tabulation from the Star Tribune, Norm Coleman led Al Franken by 251 votes, not including any changes that may have come from this morning’s votes. The Franken campaign believes it’s ahead, as of right now, by literally four votes.

As Eric Kleefeld explained, “The Franken camp’s methodology involves taking down the opinions of the local election officials regarding the challenged ballots, and assuming that the local referees’ calls will be upheld by the state canvassing board. As such, we are dependent on the Franken camp’s numbers and assumptions.”

Stay tuned.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.