Republican Norm Coleman is proposing that disputed absentee ballots be the first issue taken up in his lawsuit over Minnesota's Senate recount.
Democrat Al Franken came out ahead of Coleman by 225 votes in the recount. But Coleman argues that some absentee ballots were improperly rejected and should be added to the count.
A three-judge panel will hear the case. Coleman proposes that they take up the absentee question Feb. 9.
His filing Wednesday suggests that the trial take place in stages. It would proceed to the next stage only if Coleman gets enough votes at each stage to justify continuing.
The later stages would address missing ballots in Minneapolis and disputes over what some voters intended with their ballots.
A spokesman for Franken says the campaign will comment Thursday.