While the number of challenged ballots has been increasing in the Minnesota U.S. recount during the past week, the rise has not been uniform across the state’s partisan geographic divide.

Smart Politics studied the change in challenged ballots in counties that had completed their recounts between the end of Thursday, November 20th, and Monday, November 24th. During that span, the number of counties that have finished recounts has almost doubled, from 36 last Thursday to 64 today.

Norm Coleman carried 63 of the state’s 87 counties on Election Day, and 48 of his counties have completed recounts. Franken carried 24 counties on November 4th, and 16 of those counties are finished with the recount process.

As documented at Smart Politics, as of last Thursday the ratio of challenged ballots was virtually identical in Franken territory (5.47 challenges per 10,000 ballots) as in Coleman country (5.55 challenges per 10,000 ballots).

Campaign tactics have shifted in recent days, however, with a sharp increase in the number (and percentage) of challenged ballots.

The latest tally, of the 64 counties who have completed recounts, shows an average of 9.30 challenges per 10,000 ballots in the 48 counties won by Coleman, or a 70 percent increase from four days ago. But in the 16 counties won by Franken, the challenged ballot ratio has risen even more: to 10.79 per 10,000 ballots, a 94.4 percent increase from last Thursday.

(The challenge rate is even higher in populous counties who have not yet completed the recount process: 30.78 per 10,000 ballots in Dakota County, 25.77 per 10,000 in Saint Louis County, and 13.45 per 10,000 in Hennepin County.)

Coleman has issued 57 percent of the challenges in counties won by Franken (at a rate of 6.18 per 10,000) while Franken has issued 54 percent of the challenges in counties won by Coleman (at a rate of 5.03 per 10,000).

In sum, the Coleman campaign has been slightly more aggressive in challenging ballots than has Franken in those counties that have completed the recount process.

Challenge Rate By Winner of County

County Winner
Challenge Rate Through 11/20
Challenge Rate Through 11/24
Percent Change
Coleman
5.55
9.30
+70.0%
Franken
5.47
10.79
+94.4%

Note: Challenges per 10,000 ballots in 64 counties that have completed the recount process.