Page last updated at 21:58 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Minnesota begins Senate recount

Norm Coleman (L) and Al Franken (R)
The recount could see Mr Coleman (left) losing to Mr Franken

A manual recount has begun in Minnesota's knife-edge US Senate election between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken.

At the end of the first count, Mr Coleman led Mr Franken by 215 votes, or 0.008% of the total vote.

Under Minnesota law, a manual recount is automatically triggered if the winner's margin of victory is less than 0.5% of the vote.

Officials have until 5 December to recount some 2.9 million votes.

When ballots are counted by hand, candidates can often pick up votes, because human counters register votes that counting machines ignore.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, officials finally finished counting the state's presidential election votes, and declared John McCain the winner of the state's 11 electoral college votes.

With all states now reporting, the final results of the presidential election are now known: Barack Obama won 365 electoral college votes to John McCain's 173.

Automatic run-off

Apart from Minnesota, one other Senate election result remains outstanding.

Minnesota: Manual recount ongoing
Georgia: Run-off scheduled for 2 December

In Georgia, because no candidate won more than 50% of the vote, a run-off between the top two candidates was automatically triggered.

Incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss faces Democratic challenger Jim Martin in the 2 December vote.

A recent opinion poll from Research 2000 gave Mr Chambliss a three-point lead, with 49% to Mr Martin's 46%.

If Mr Franken overturns Mr Coleman's lead in Minnesota, and if Mr Martin is victorious in Georgia, then the Democrats will have 60 seats in the Senate, which could help them to frustrate attempts by Republicans to block legislation.

Sixty votes are needed to overturn a "filibuster" - tactic used by the Senate minority to prevent legislation from coming to a vote.

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