Secretary Ritchie voted against including the rejected absentee ballots in the recount during a critical canvassing board meeting last week, which was considered Al Franken's last best hope of winning the recount. But now Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann has been adopting the kind of rhetoric Franken's campaign has been using through the recount regarding the rejected absentee ballots.
Gelbmann sent an email to election officials on Monday telling them to begin sifting through rejected ballots. "Board members expressed an interest in knowing the number of Absentee Ballots that may have been mistakenly rejected," the e-mail said. "In other words, the Board has heard anecdotal evidence of absentee ballots being rejected, even though the facts surrounding the ballot did not meet one of the four reasons stated in statute upon which an absentee ballot may be rejected. We simply are looking for the number of rejected absentee ballots that were legitimately rejected ... and the number of rejected absentee ballots that were mistakenly rejected.”
A source tells me Gelbmann also stated during a press conference yesteday that he signaled he won't consider the recount finished until the missing 133 ballots are found from Minnesota's Third Ward. That includes the Lutheran Church polling station the Franken campaign is asking be searched by criminal investigators.
All of this may soon be irrelevant since it looks like Coleman is close to closing the win, but it's interesting to watch how these allegedly non-partisan officials are acting in the final hours of the race.