A ‘slippery’ problem: missing Dinkytown ballots discussed

For the first time, Coleman attorneys concede they exist, but now the court has to decide if they should be counted.

On the 24th day of the Senate recount trial, a few âÄúslipperyâÄù envelopes stole the show. Minneapolis Elections Director Cindy Reichert , who continued her testimony from Wednesday, was presented two white, generic envelopes by Democrat Al FrankenâÄôs attorney David Lillehaug. He likened them to the missing envelope from Ward 3, Precinct 1 containing the missing Dinkytown votes, of which there are 132, according to Franken attorneys, although there were previously thought to be 133. Reichert was then instructed to rub the two envelopes together. âÄúHow would you characterize the interface between the two envelopes?âÄù Lillehaug asked. âÄúThey are slippery,âÄù Recihert responded. The use of the envelopes, which Lillehaug said he bought Thursday morning from St. PaulâÄôs own Quality Park Products , brought a few chuckles from those in attendance, including former Sen. Norm Coleman, who also used to be mayor of St. Paul. However, they were not being used simply for show. Demonstrating that the real Election Day envelopes were slippery, and could have easily been dropped while they were being moved, was part of a continuing effort by the Franken team to show that the votes did in fact exist, went missing, and should now be counted via Election Day totals. This is what the state canvassing board decided to do during the official recount. However, ColemanâÄôs legal team has taken a different stand on the missing ballots, requesting that none of the missing Dinkytown votes get counted in the final tally. âÄúTo include erstwhile ballots in a recount âĦ would be a re-guess,âÄù Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg said outside the courtroom. Ginsberg noted that there is no way to know the missing ballots were submitted properly, or if 133 âÄî the number widely reported in the media âÄî is actually the real number. Even the Franken team has wavered between 132 and 133 during the trial. âÄúI donâÄôt think they can even narrow it down within 20 ballots,âÄù Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg said at the end of the day. However, Coleman lawyers did admit Thursday that the missing Dinkytown votes do in fact exist. Previously, ColemanâÄôs team had argued that they might not have ever been cast. This admission by ColemanâÄôs team was spurred by ReichertâÄôs steadfast belief that the ballots were lost, which she discussed during her testimony. When asked by Lillehaug how certain she was that votes were lost between Election Day and the recount, Reichert said she was âÄúvery certainâÄù and that she was convinced without a doubt. Coleman attorneys still maintain that the missing ballots should not be counted because Election Day results are not reliable. âÄúItâÄôs difficult to have any faith in the count of this election,âÄù Ginsberg said. In court, Reichert said there were opportunities for inaccuracies during election night, such as voters not signing registration logs and voting machines miscounting ballots. Reichert, who was called to the stand by ColemanâÄôs team, is done testifying, and Franken lawyers expect to begin with their argument early next week.