Klobuchar suggests temporary senator be sworn in

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg would support delaying Libra | More attorneys general join Facebook probe | Defense chief recuses from 'war cloud' contract | Senate GOP blocks two election security bills | FTC brings case against 'stalking' app developer Senate Republicans block two election security bills Warren overtakes Sanders in new poll MORE (D-Minn.) suggested this weekend that the Senate swear in the winner of a preliminary vote count in her state's razor-thin election, contingent on litigation almost sure to drag on for weeks.

Klobuchar's senior colleague, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), is likely to send lawyers to court to stop the state Canvassing Board from declaring satirist Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenTake Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota Ninth woman accuses Al Franken of inappropriate contact Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show MORE (D) the winner when the board finishes counting outstanding absentee ballots next week.

"If the Canvassing Board declares a winner, that should be our senator," Klobuchar told the Minneapolis Star Tribune this weekend. The Senate "could seat a senator pending litigation."

Franken is expected to lead following the conclusion of the Canvassing Board's work. According to the latest counts, Franken leads Coleman by 46 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast, a margin of just 0.000016 percent.

Either candidate has seven days from certification to issue an "election contest," a formal legal challenge that would halt the formal declaration of a winner. Last week, Coleman campaign attorneys said that regardless of the final count, litigation was all but certain.

After the new year, the Canvassing Board will begin tallying some 1,350 absentee ballots that were improperly rejected. Both campaigns will have the opportunity to argue whether each ballot should be counted, with the bulk of the ballots expected to be included in the final tally.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) said the Canvassing Board could finish with the absentee ballots and be prepared to issue a final report by Jan. 6, when the 111th Congress is sworn in, but the likely litigation could prevent a senator being sworn in for weeks, if not longer. Coleman campaign attorney Fritz Knaak suggested last week that a vacancy could last as long as a month.

Still, even if Franken ends the Canvassing Board period with a lead, it is unlikely he would be appointed on an interim basis. Senate rules stipulate a governor must provide the upper chamber with a certificate of election, something Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has voiced reluctance about.

Pawlenty's office told the Star Tribune that the governor only has the power to fill a permanent vacancy, not a temporary one caused by such a close election.