News & Election Videos

December 04, 2008

Franken camp: Find missing ballots!

It’s looking like the results from the Minnesota Senate recount could come down to 133 ballots that have gone missing from a heavily Democratic Minneapolis precinct.

During yesterday’s recount, Minneapolis elections director Cindy Reichert found that one precinct recounted 133 fewer ballots than were cast in the November election. After Reichert initially said that the ballots were accidentally double-counted during the election, she backed away from that theory last night,  and told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that  "several mistakes have been made in the precinct"

Sen. Norm Coleman gained a net total of 36 votes over Al Franken because of the discrepancy. That would overturn a 10-vote lead that the Franken campaign is now claiming it has at the end of last night — a total that doesn’t include the recounted figures in the Minneapolis precinct.

About 56,000 ballots remain left to be recounted throughout the state.

At a press conference this afternoon, Franken’s campaign counsel Marc Elias called on the Secretary of State's office to conduct an "immediate and intensive search" for the ballots.

He demanded that every person who touched or transported ballots on Election Day be interviewed, and that election officials conduct a “systematic forensic search” of the precinct. 

‘The outcome of this election might be at stake. The integrity of this election, and the integrity of the Minnesota electoral process is at stake,” said Elias. “The people of Minnesota will not stand for this. Find the ballots! They ought to move heaven and earth to find them.”

Meanwhile, Coleman’s campaign attorney Fritz Knaak announced it would be withdrawing about 650 ballot challenges after Coleman personally instructed him to do so. Yesterday Knaak suggested that the campaign would wait until the end of the recount process before withdrawing any challenges.

The Franken campaign yesterday agreed to withdraw 633 ballot challenges.

UPDATE: Minnesota Republican party chairman Ron Carey called the Franken's campaign request to investigate the missing ballots “both offensive and completely out-of-control” and accused the campaign of harassing Minnesota election officials.

Carey also accused Franken's team of "invading a place of worship" since the Minneapolis precinct is located in a church.

"At what point does the Franken campaign simply conduct itself in this recount with some semblance of dignity?" Carey said in a statement. " Demanding that the government invade a place of worship—and require taxpayers to foot the bill for that invasion—is bizarre and repulsive."

"In addition to a loud slap in the face of local election officials, the Franken campaign’s demand for information on the administrator of the church is simply tantamount to government-sponsored persecution."