Alaska elected Senator Lisa Murkowski called for a resolution to a lawsuit brought by her former opponent Joe Miller, claiming Alaska will be harmed if she isn’t sworn in on Jan. 3. Murkowski attorneys are claiming her Senate seat will be vacant and Alaska will have only one senator if she’s not seated on time. Murkowski would have a gap in service if she’s not seated and she would lose her seniority as her ranking would drop.
Joe Miller filed a lawsuit sued claiming that elections officials illegally accepted improperly marked write-in ballots that benefited Murkowski winning the senate election. According to Alaska state law law bans any ballot that does not include a candidate’s name as it appears on a declaration of candidacy, or the last name of the candidate.
Alaska elections officials have accepted minor misspellings on write-in ballots. If this is the case, Miller has every right to right the voting process.
Miller defeated Murkowski in this past August GOP primary. Murkowski mounted a write-in campaign, backed by campaign funding of around $1 million and support from Alaska big business. What is being questioned, she holds a 10,328 vote lead over Miller, which includes 8,159 ballots contested by Miller campaign.
Miller states he still has a chance to surpass Murkowski raising allegations of voter and election fraud, claiming voters may have been allowed to take ballots even if they did not have identification or were not personally known by election workers. Reports are several voting precincts allowed handwriting samples indicate the same person or groups of people wrote in names on multiple ballots.
Murkowski legal team argued that Murkowski deserves to be a party to the lawsuit and has defeated Miller. Miller’s challenges were based on a misspelling of Murkowski’s name. Voters wrote “Murkowski, Lisa,” or added the party affiliation “Republican,” or “L. Murkowski” which could be anyone other that Lisa Murkowski?
Some ballots were challenged because they included marks, such as an exclamation point. A misspelling word crossed out then correctly spelled. Some ballots were challenged because of what Miller indicated as “poor handwriting” not able to determine the voters intent.
Miller filed suit after this past November 2 election in federal court with many of the same arguments. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline stated Miller’s challenge raised serious legal questions but “was a matter for a state court”. Judge Beistline granted a temporary injunction halting certification of the Alaska Senate election with the condition that Miller case be held in state court.
Alaska Republican Party Chairman called on Miller to concede the election to Murkowski. “I am troubled by the unfounded concerns and inaccurate claims expressed by the Joe Miller campaign organization, its supporters and associated individuals,” Ruedrich stated. Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell called Miller’s claims baseless and said “state courts have erred on the side of enfranchising voters when their intent is clear”.
Remember the hanging chads in Florida during the 2000 presidential election? Florida allowed counting those “hanging chads” or even “bulging chads” as votes that put President Bush in office. In 1996 Democratic primary for a House seat in Massachusetts, the state allowed over 956 disputed ballots and declared Democrat William Delahunt the winner by counting ballots that were dimpled and the chad not dislodged.
The difference in Alaska, the handwriting ballots intent appearing as fraudulent plus voters did not follow the write-in handwriting process. Such a voter should not automatically be disqualified.”