Canvassing board weighs absentees again

10:58 AMCleary admonishes campaigns to keep withdrawing “frivolous” ballot challenges. Meeting adjourns.

10:55 AM Discussion is winding up. Consideration of challenged ballots is scheduled for December 16 through 19 and the board seems to be ready to take the various reconsiderations, of both absentee and challenged ballots, as they come.

10:48 AMCanvassing board starts discussion on a second motion, outlining how the Canvassing Board will consider the corrected returns if wrongly rejected absentee ballots are found and counted.

Magunson suggests to do so is putting the cart before the horse and says it would be better to wait until some of those returns are available. Clearly says it would be bad faith to ask them to reconsider with out a guarantee that the canvassing board would accept the results.

“I don’t like making a decision I don’t have to make,” says Anderson.

10:35 AM Motion passes asking county officials to separate properly and allegedly improperly rejected absentee ballots. Magnuson repeats that the canvassing board can’t compel this action. Vote is unanimous.

10:27 AM Ramsey County District Court Judge Ed Cleary says he’s inclined to include the improperly rejected absentee ballots. “We do not have authorities to make findings of fact or conclusions of law on the absentee ballots rejected for reasons…Those that have improperly been rejected are uncounted ballots… The bottom line is that I think we’re disenfranchising voters that followed the law.”

Magnuson suggests that the state courts may be a better place to consider this, since judges can issue orders and assess penalties to make these considerations happen, whereas the canvassing board cannot.

Gearin says she can’t understand why a county wouldn’t reconsider if the canvassing board asks. “If the local people, in the trenches, if they made a mistake, then that vote should be accepted.”

Anderson weighs in and says he’s inclined to go along with Cleary’s suggestion to ask these ballots be reexamined and reconsidered by the canvassing board. He says there are some ballots rejected without any indication at all that they were in fact rejected. But he seems to be saying he thinks the courts ought to eventually weigh in.

Ritchie rephrases the motion. Cleary offers some clarification. County canvassing boards reconvene, separate rejected absentee ballots into properly and improperly rejected ballots.

10:20 AM Attorney General Lori Swanson says she believes the canvassing board has the authority to recommend local elections officials reconsider their wrongly rejected ballots and correct their vote totals. Ramsey County District Court Judge says some counties seem to have done that already and that the Canvassing Board will have to weigh in on this whether they like it or not.

10:16 AM Gelbmann says that officials in Duluth report that many absentee ballots were rejected because the witness to the absentee vote did not date their signature, but an administrative review of the law seems to indicate that they didn’t have to date them.

10:15 AM Deputy secretary of state Jim Gelbmann offers a summary of the situation of absentee ballots that may have been wrongly rejected, through no fault of voters. He says 49 counties have completed their supports, that 3 have sorted but not reported their results and 24 should sort out rejected ballots next week.

So far, 4,023 absentee ballots have been re-examined and 638 have been determined to have been wrongfully rejected. That works out to about 13 percent of all disqualified ballots have been wrongfully rejected.

That’s even higher than the 9 to 10 percent Mark Ritchie was estimating earlier this week. That would work out to about 1,587 wrongfully rejected ballots out of 12,000 statewide.

10:08 AM Board votes unanimously to include the 133 missing ballots from Minneapolis in the official vote total.

10:07 AM Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson lauds elections officials, says there is no evidence to show the canvassing board should not accept the vote total results Reichert has offered and moves to do so.

10:05 AM“We believe there was 2,028 ballots fed into the counter machine that night,” Reichert says. She says the roster shows 2,030 signed in, but that people do occasionally leave without actually voting.

10:00 AMReichert asks canvassing board to use election night totals, rather than hand recount with missing ballots. Attorney General Lori Swanson summarizes the legal situation. She says the canvassing board has the authority to use the election night returns, in her opinion.

9:56 AMAgenda moves to missing ballots from Minneapolis’ Ward 3, precinct 1.

City election director Cindy Reichert takes to the witness table to talk about the missing ballots. “We thought as we went through the process… that they would come up,” she said. They called the chief election judge at the polling place, but got no further indication of what happened.

A search went though spoiled ballot envelopes, ballot receipt envelopes, but found nothing. Search turned to an audit of the voting statistics, and a second search of the elections warehouse on Dec. 4.

“We determined definitively that the ballots were missing,” says Reichert. The custodian at the polling reported he didn’t find anything. Search expanded to City Hall, a van used to transport elections materials. Another warehouse search was conducted on Dec. 5.

9:45 AM Ritchie is proposing adding votes from withdrawn challenges to the existing vote total, ahead of the consideration of the challenges next week. Chief Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson seconded. Approved.

9:40 AM State elections director Gary Poser earlier reported 3,594 challenged ballots. The number has grown since then, to 6,655 challenges. There have been several thousand withdrawls, and now Poser says 4,472 challenges remain.

9:34 AM Mark Ritchie just announced that the crowd is at capacity in the Capitol’s Room 15. Standers will have to watch a video feed in the cafeteria.

  • bellczar

    If the StarTrib is correct that Coleman’s lead is 192, and if the SOS is correct that there are 1587 absentee ballots that were wrongfully rejected, then Franken needs to beat Coleman by at least 13 percentage points in the counting of those absentee ballots in order for him to come out ahead. Instead of being 42%-42% like the election, Franken needs it to be 53-40 or 55-42 or something. That seems like a very steep hill for him to climb.

  • Grace Kelly

    Nice coverage!