The election, part 1: Voting day arrivesby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesotans came up just short of breaking the state's voter turnout record on Nov. 4, 2008. They flocked to polling places in large numbers. Around the state there were reports of long lines and many first-time voters.
"It's been wonderful. It's been marvelous," said long-time election judge Mary Smith, who was working at the Minneapolis Urban League polling place.
Turnout shattered the record at Smith's polling place, but, even so, she said there were no problems.
"I'm so proud of Minnesota, because I keep telling people what happened in Florida could not happen here. Our system is so good," said Smith.
There's no question Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama brought a lot of people out to vote. Immediately after the polls closed at 8 p.m., Obama was projected the winner of the presidential race in Minnesota.
The fate of the state's U.S. Senate race was much less clear. It was too close to call on Election Night.
COLEMAN WON, OR DID HE?
Early Wednesday morning the Associated Press declared Norm Coleman the winner. But the AP declaration was determined to be premature, and the news agency ended up reversing its call.
The initial election tally showed Coleman ahead by more than 700 votes. But the margin of victory was less than one half of 1 percent, and fell within the state's mandatory recount law. Under the rules, no winner could be determined until all of the ballots were recounted.
Nonetheless, early Wednesday morning Coleman declared himself the victor.
Coleman also said if he were in Franken's position he would step aside, thereby eliminating the need for a recount.
"I was hopeful that the healing process for Minnesota would have begun today. That whoever won the election, we would move forward," said Coleman. "Yesterday the voters spoke. We prevailed."
Coleman also told reporters he had great confidence in the Minnesota election system.
"I have confidence, whether I would have won or lost. I've run a lot of races. I've never questioned the way in which our election system works," said Coleman at the time. "Again, Mr. Franken can do what he chooses to do."
Franken held no press conference but issued a statement referencing the mandatory recount, and stating his campaign's goal to ensure that every vote was properly counted.