City calls off search for missing ballots

The City of Minneapolis has called off its search for 133 ballots missing from a Dinkytown precinct Monday. Officials scoured the warehouse where the ballots were to have been stored and recounted in the tight U.S. Senate race, but didnâÄôt find them, city spokesman Matt Laible said. The search wrapped up Friday and the city has turned over its Election Day results and recount results âÄî less the 133 missing ballots âÄî to the canvassing board, which oversees the recount process. The board will decide at its meeting on Friday or at its Dec. 16 meeting which numbers to tally. ItâÄôs most likely the original numbers as calculated on Election Day will be used, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said, noting that his office hadnâÄôt yet received official word from the city about the searchâÄôs suspension as of Monday afternoon. âÄúIn 3 million ballots, weâÄôre just happy there was such a very, very, very high and smooth rate of sorting everything out,âÄù he said. âÄúWe wish we could find this one packet in the 3 million but Minnesota also has really excellent election laws.âÄù Ritchie noted ballot-counting technology at polling places and voter-registration sign-in logs as back-up systems that help assure vote-counting accuracy. âÄúWe did a very thorough search of the warehouse,âÄù Laible said. âÄúAt this point, weâÄôve turned over all of our results to the state and it will be in the hands of the canvassing board.âÄù At a news conference last Thursday representatives from the city and the Secretary of StateâÄôs Office announced that the precinct would not finalize its recount pending a search for the ballots, which were likely in an envelope. In that precinct, 2,029 people are registered to have voted, meaning 6.5 percent of votes have been lost. Various news reports place Republican incumbent Norm Coleman’s recount lead at less than 200. But the Dinkytown area is widely considered a Democratic stronghold, which could mean a boost for Democratic candidate Al Franken . As for the votes, the Secretary of State said final recount numbers will be as accurate as possible. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt seem like a big problem,âÄù Ritchie said Monday. âÄúIt just seems too bad.âÄù