Al Franken's Senate campaign called on the Minnesota Secretary of State to launch a comprehensive investigation into the possibility of missing ballots in the state's recount election.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, aides to the Democratic challenger said that they were growing increasingly concerned with news reports that ballots from Election Day -- which by state law must be recounted -- have gone missing.
"The number of votes counted on November 4th," said spokesman Andy Barr, "exceeds the number of ballots produced for consideration during the recount."
Marc Elias, Franken's chief lawyer, said that the campaign was not alleging foul play, noting that many of these missing ballots could be the product of administrative oversight or simple misplacement. But, with the election margin down to double digits (according to the Franken campaign's internal numbers, which they would not detail) he added that every single vote was of the utmost importance.
"[Missing ballots] should be a serious matter for cause and concern. That is why today we are calling on the Secretary of State to launch an investigation to find these ballots and make sure they are counted... to immediately instruct local elected officials to redouble their efforts to find all missing ballots," said Elias. "We know this is a close election... in an election this close we cannot let any lawful vote go uncounted."
The Coleman campaign, too, has said that reports of missing ballots should be taking seriously -- and there is little indication that these missing ballots would benefit one candidate or another. For example, on Friday, 74 ballots were discovered missing in St. Louis County, only to be found in a locked counting machine inside a warehouse. The county auditor said that the ballots contained votes for Franken and Coleman. On Thursday, meanwhile, the Center for Election Integrity MN reported that 243 ballots had gone missing in Robbinsdale County, only to be later found. Of that bunch 143 were votes for Franken, 140 for Coleman.
Those cases, however, have been successfully solved. In a memo to the Secretary of State, David Lillehaug, another attorney for the Franken campaign, claimed that there were still five missing ballots in Clay County, three in St. Louis, and 13 in Washington County.
"In an election this close," he added, "these discrepancies should be cause for serious concern to every Minnesota voter."