On Hardball, Matthews forwarded discredited rumor over MN ballots

››› ››› LILY YAN & MORGAN WEILAND

Chris Matthews echoed the discredited rumor that 32 ballots from Minneapolis were mishandled in the Minnesota Senate race. Matthews asked: "What about these absentee ballots that were found in somebody's back seat and they're now counting them as official -- what is that about? That sounds pretty squirrely or sneaky or what -- I don't know what it sounds like." In fact, a lawyer for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has reportedly said regarding those ballots that "[i]t does not appear that there was any ballot-tampering, and that was our concern."

On the November 14 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while discussing the Minnesota Senate race, host Chris Matthews echoed the discredited rumor that 32 ballots from Minneapolis were mishandled. Matthews asked: "What about these absentee ballots that were found in somebody's back seat and they're now counting them as official -- what is that about? That sounds pretty squirrely or sneaky or what -- I don't know what it sounds like." Matthews later stated: "Yeah, well, if I lost by 30 votes and I found out that somebody had found 30 votes in their back seat, I'd be upset."

In fact, while Fritz Knaak, a lawyer for Sen. Norm Coleman (R), reportedly said on November 8, "We were actually told ballots had been riding around in [Minneapolis director of elections Cindy Reichert's] car for several days, which raised all kinds of integrity questions," he also reportedly said that same day that he was assured the ballots weren't tampered with. On November 10, Knaak further reportedly said that "[i]t does not appear that there was any ballot-tampering, and that was our concern."

Additionally, citing "Hennepin County officials," the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported of the absentee ballots in question: "On Election Day, officials attempted to deliver absentee ballots that arrived as part of a late mail delivery to the appropriate precinct. But some precincts had closed by the time they got there, and the ballots were returned to a secure location before being counted according to state law." Additionally, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on November 9 that the "32 Minneapolis ballots were part of the normal delivery of absentee ballots late in the polling day, according to Election Director Cindy Reichert. She said they were retained when they couldn't be delivered because some polling places had shut down for the day. She said the ballots were kept sealed until other election duties were completed and were being counted Saturday afternoon, with results to be delivered to the state on Monday."

Nevertheless, in addition to Matthews, several media figures and outlets have advanced the rumor that the ballots were mishandled, including The Wall Street Journal, NBC correspondent Lee Cowan, and Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Brit Hume, and Bill O'Reilly.

From the November 14 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

NATE SILVER (FiveThirtyEight.com): Frankly, in Minneapolis and Hennepin County, you probably have Democrats looking at these ballots. He has maybe a kind of a home-field advantage here too. The secretary of state, you know, is a Democrat in Minnesota, so that's why Coleman's a little scared, trying to kind of cut off the recount before it starts, which you can't really do legally. But he knows that those 200 votes mean very little once you start counting, you know, the millions of votes that were cast in that race.

MATTHEWS: What about these absentee ballots that were found in somebody's back seat and they're now counting them as official -- what is that about? That sounds pretty squirrely or sneaky or what -- I don't know what it sounds like. What do you make of it?

SILVER: Well, I doesn't look good for the state in general when you have these numbers changing, but this actually happens in every state where vote counts are finalized over a 10-day to 14-day period. It happens -- usually people don't care if Obama wins by 10,008 votes instead of 10,012 or something, but when it's this close, people notice stuff like this. Yeah, I think it looks bad for Minnesota if you have this happening in some places, but they seem to be isolated incidents to me and not any kind of widespread fraud.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, well, if I lost by 30 votes and I found out that somebody had found 30 votes in their back seat, I'd be upset. Let's take a look at the Georgia Senate race.

Posted In
Elections, Election Law, Voting Rights & Issues, Government, Ethics, The Senate
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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