Federal Court Stops Certification of Alaska U.S. Senate Election Pending Resolution of Serious Legal Issues

Anchorage, Alaska. November 19, 2010 — Today the U.S. Federal District Court in Anchorage ordered the U.S. Senate race not to be certified until vital legal issues are resolved. The Court recognized serious statutory matters have been raised by Joe Miller concerning what standard of review should be used to count the write-in ballots. The Miller campaign has consistently held that the state law must be applied, as written. Its provisions could not be clearer: “A vote for a write-in candidate…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” and, “The rules set out in this section are mandatory and there are no exceptions to them. A ballot may not be counted unless marked in compliance with these rules.” The Division of Elections chose to ignore that clear standard and instead issued new guidelines concerning “voter intent” only 36 hours before ballot review began.

Federal District Judge Ralph Beistline in his ruling held, “In order to ensure that these serious State law issues are resolved prior to certification of the election, the Court hereby conditionally grants Plaintiff’s motion to enjoin certification of the election.” The Judge added, “[T]he results of this election shall not be certified until the legal issues raised therein have been fully and finally resolved.”

Joe Miller reacted to the ruling saying, “I am gratified to have Judge Beistline recognize that we have raised vital questions concerning the ballot review in this election. It is critical that these issues be resolved not only for this election, but for future ones in Alaska, as well. We are a nation of laws, and the law concerning this could not be clearer. We need the state law applied consistently to all ballots cast. We look forward to the state court’s interpretation of the relevant laws consistent with what the people of Alaska enacted through their state legislature.”