Minneapolis officials have called off the search for 133 ballots that went missing between Election Day and the hand recount, meaning the original, Election Night count will be used in the precinct from which the ballots went missing.

"It will be my job at the State Canvassing Board to take their report and make sure that we can fulfill this process," said Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie in a statement. "There are simple solutions to this. It would have been best to have found it but if it cannot be found then there are simple solutions to the problem created when one packet gets lost."

After concluding the hand recount in Minnesota's hotly-contested Senate race, officials in the urban center's 3rd ward, 1st precinct noted an 133-vote descrepancy in Election Night and recount tallies. The 133 missing ballots were said to be in an envelope marked "1/5," leading Democrat Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMeet the Democrats' last best hope of preserving a House majority Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour MORE's campaign to call for a "forensic search" for the ballots.

ADVERTISEMENT
"While we are disappointed that the envelope containing 133 missing paper ballots has not been found, we take solace in the fact that the voters of this precinct will still have their votes counted, as the Secretary of State has said that the canvassed and audited election night results may stand in the absence of these ballots," said Marc Elias, the lead recount attorney for Franken's campaign.

"We've maintained from the beginning of this incident that there should be no rush to judgment on what may have happened," said Coleman campaign spokesman Luke Friedrich. "The decision by a senior member of the Secretary of State's office, as well as the Secretary of State himself, to insist there are missing ballots when there are any number of other plausible scenarios is disappointing."

It was not immediately clear how the restoration of this single precinct's November 4th results would affect the overall tally. The Franken campaign, citing an internal tally, claims to maintain a four-vote lead over Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in the race.

"With today's news, we would hope further review of these other scenarios will be conducted, rather than just accepting the political spin of the Franken campaign," added Friedrich.