Minneapolis Gives Up On “Missing” Ballots

The City of Minneapolis announced tonight that it is giving up its search for the 133 “missing” ballots from a Dinkytown precinct near the University of Minnesota. Reactions to the announcement were counter-intuitive; the Al Franken campaign took it calmly, while Norm Coleman’s campaign “questioned suspending the search.”

The Coleman camp apparently thinks that calling off the search is a prelude to Franken’s effort to have the results of the hand recount rejected in favor of the tally shown on the precinct’s tape at the end of the day on November 4. I’m sure they’re right about that; Franken will argue that the ballots are gone, but the best evidence of how they were cast is the contemporaneous record of the tape from the voting machine.

That position is not without logic, but it raises an obvious question: if we trust the tapes on the voting machines more than the results of a hand recount of paper ballots, why are we doing the recount at all? There is no obvious good answer to that question, although the precinct’s record of the number of voters tallies with the higher number.

The 133 ballots at issue apparently netted Franken 46 votes; whether they were legitimately-cast ballots or, perhaps, the result of someone running ballots through the machine twice or some similar shenanigans is the question at issue. The bottom line is that Norm Coleman will emerge from the recount (pending resolution of challenged ballots) by either 192 votes or, if the 133 “missing” ballots are not counted, 238 votes.

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