Norm Coleman and Al FrankenMark Ritchie’s December 5 news conference (covered by The UpTake) had the following information:

– Aside from the packet of 133 ballots that went missing in one Minneapolis precinct, Phase One of the hand recount is done and over three million ballots have been counted.  It’s expected that the packet will turn up soon. Ritchie says this part of the recount’s "99.99999%" done.

–  The stack of challenged ballots — around six thousand or so — will not be that big a deal, as most of the challenges are frivolous (which is typical, as old-timers involved in previous recounts told Ritchie) and so will be quickly dealt with by the canvassing board.  Working at a rate of two ballots a minute, which veterans of prior recounts have said is a good pace, the challenged ballots should be dealt with in three to four days.

– Ritchie and the state canvassing board is looking for guidance from the state Attorney General on how to handle the rejected absentee ballots (that is, whether the counties or the canvassing board should do it, with a view to having settled procedures for future recounts); sixty-odd of Minnesota’s eighty-seven counties are already, per Ritchie’s request earlier this week, scheduling reviews of these ballots and one county, Houston, has finished and faxed in their review of their rejected absentee ballots to the canvassing board. 

– Cost of the recount:  Three cents a ballot, or roughly $100,000.  Cheap at the price for a functioning democracy.  The biggest cost is in the time and labor, most of which is donated.

By the way:  The precinct and ward where 133 ballots went missing is the same one where University of Minnesota college students residing at an off-campus high-rise were turned away at the polls.