As the recount marches on, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board met December 12. Going into the meeting, three kinds of ballots were still contested: the 4000+ ballots challenged by either the Franken or the Coleman campaigns, the 133 “lost” ballots from a Minneapolis precinct, and an unknown number of wrongly-rejected absentee ballots across the state.
Challenged ballots: The Canvassing Board strongly urged the two campaigns to review the challenges they have made and withdraw any that are not serious. Campaigns have withdrawn thousands of challenges in the past few days, but the Canvassing Board believes that a large number of frivolous challenges are still pending. The Canvassing Board will begin considering the challenged ballots on Tuesday, December 16.
According to the Minnesota Independent live blog of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s press conference:
The campaigns have been moving in a positive direction, just not as fast as needed. If a serious challenge takes 2-3 minutes, in four days we could look at 1,000 ballots. The judges and justices said the challenges that merit our time are not in the 4,000 range and probably are below 1,000. This is for the campaigns to hear and take seriously. There are reports that the Franken campaign is going to withdraw more today and that would be great.
Absentee ballots: The Canvassing Board asked counties to immediately proceed with sorting rejected ballots into five piles — one pile for each of four legal reasons for rejection and a fifth pile for wrongly-rejected ballots — and then to submit their corrected numbers to the State Canvassing Board.
In a press conference following the Canvassing Board meeting, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said that most counties are very anxious to proceed with a review of rejected absentee ballots. According to Ritchie, “A huge number of absentee ballots were wrongly rejected. I was first predicting 9 or 10 percent. It’s closer to 13 percent. Counties want to find ways to fix the system so we have fewer errors. No one expects that absentee ballots will go down in number in the future.”
Lost ballots: The canvassing board agreed unanimously that the machine total from election night is the best number to use. That total includes the 133 ballots which have been lost. Days of searching have failed to turn up the physical ballots.