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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alaska Senate Race Heating: Miller Sues To Force Exact Spelling Rule For Write-In Votes

The vote counting is beginning for the Alaska Senate race where Joe Miller beat out Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary to run as the Republican candidate and Lisa Murkowski decided to run as a write-in candidate and Joe Miller has filed a lawsuit on the grounds that determining "voter intent" is not the job of those counting the votes, citing the Alaska law which states that "A vote for a write-in candidate, other than a write-in vote for governor and lieutenant governor, shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided."

In the days preceding the election a judge had ordered that clear voter intent could used in place of the laws language and Miller is arguing that the law does not include intent and write-in votes should not count if the voter did not spell Murkowsi's name as it is written on the write-in declaration of candidacy.

Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees Alaska elections, has indicated that he will accept minor misspellings of Murkowski's name as long as the "voter intent" is clear. "The courts have been very clear for the last 25 years that voter intent is important," Campbell said in an interview this week with KENI radio host Mike Porcaro. "You do not want to disenfranchise voters over a technicality."

But Van Flein, Miller's lawyer, is arguing that nothing in state law allows for that kind of discretion. "The statute does not allow for the election board to weigh 'voter intent,' 'voter feelings,' or 'voter hopes,' " Van Flein wrote in a letter to Fenumiai.

The problem here for Miller is that Campbell seems to have a conflict of interest since it was Murlowsi's father that appointed Campbell to his position, which is leading the Miller campaign of accusing Campbell with bias.


Miller started the day 13,439 behind and is now 11,333 votes behind, so it is clear that the voter intent issue could very well make or break the election results and if the court does not rule in his favor about exact spelling, this could go to a higher court to decide in the following weeks.

Here is a copy of the Miller complaint. (27 page PDF)

Here is a copy of the preliminary injunction. (41 page PDF)