The people in charge of Minneapolis elections have given up the search for about 133 ballots that were cast and then, supposedly, cast to the wind. On Friday, I watched the city elections staff as they combed through their warehouse, assisted by clean-election advocates and a deputy secretary of state, in the hunt for the missing envelope. On Monday, the Great Ballot Hunt was officially over.
Not for me. On Monday, I visited the erstwhile polling place, the University Lutheran Church of Hope, whose gothic stone bulk looms over a corner in Dinkytown. On Nov. 4, voters entered through the glass doors of the modern addition on the building’s north side, wound through the corridors, down the stairs and into the fellowship hall to vote, church administrator Craig M. Wiester told me.
The Franken and Coleman campaigns may be at each other’s throats, but they probably agree about this: nobody wants to spend another minute in that warehouse in northeast Minneapolis. That’s the place they have been stationed since Nov. 19 to observe the mind-deadening process of hand-counting tens of thousands of paper ballots. On Friday, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann helped roll voting machines from one place to another, hoping that the missing envelope of 133 ballots – the last piece of the official recount – would magically appear. Read more here.
As night fell over Edina City Hall, the recount crew working in the council chambers looked a little ragged, and City Clerk Debra Mangen’s patience with some candidate representatives was wearing thin. They had made it through 16 of 20 precincts, and there were 22 challenged ballots set aside for the state Canvassing Board’s opinion.
Answering a Coleman rep’s concern about rejected ballots, Mangen said that the recount wasn’t taking on that issue. Despite that, Mangen said, she’s been badgered by the campaigns about it, even getting called at home. When I asked her to elaborate, she declined.
Mangen said the Senate recount benefited from last week’s recount in the Edina City Council race. The ballots were all face up, she said.
Jerry Paar of Edina, who was at the recount on behalf of Sen. Norm Coleman, agreed that all had gone well. “They run a wonderful ship here,” he said. He only raised his voice once, he said, when he saw a Franken campaign rep’s clipboard that had been left on a table with ballots. No one but the election officials are allowed to touch the ballots.
Just before 5 p.m., workers wheeled two carts loaded with boxed ballots into storage. The recount in Edina resumes at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.