Anchorage, Alaska. November 9, 2010 — Today, the Joe Miller for U.S. Senate campaign, was compelled to file suit in federal court in an effort to obtain an order forcing the State, Division of Elections, to comply with state law. Joe Miller said, “We asked the Division of Elections several times to comply with the clear legislative mandate regarding write-in ballot counts. The Division rejected the legislative statute, one that even told the Division in no uncertain terms that there shall be “no exceptions” to how the write-in ballots should be counted, and instead it substituted its own standards. This last minute change, created yesterday, besides being potentially unconstitutional, is troubling. Above all else, we want a fair election, and we want the law to be followed as written, not as a state employee wants it to be.”
The Miller Campaign has consistently maintained that every valid, lawful vote should be counted. It has further held to the expectation that the state laws, as written, should be followed, and that they should not be changed now, after the votes have been cast. Yesterday, the state issued a new policy–after the votes have been cast–imposing a new election standard for write-in ballots. The Campaign believes this action to be unconstitutional under the Federal Elections Clause governing senatorial elections and contrary to express legislative mandates.
The Miller Campaign filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction this afternoon in federal court. A hard copy of the complaint, motion, and motion for expedited consideration, were hand-delivered to the Attorney General’s office earlier today, to the attention of Dan Sullivan.
The Campaign has asked the court to order the state to respond by Noon tomorrow so we can have a hearing on this tomorrow afternoon.
According to campaign chief legal counsel Thomas Van Flein, the Miller Campaign is asking the federal court to order the Division of Elections to adhere to state law, and the objective standard implemented by the legislature. “It is our view that the state improperly deviated from the text of the statute, and is substituting a subjective “voter intent” standard and essentially repealing the legislative objective standard sub silentio,” said Van Flein.
Specifically, under the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the state legislatures have the exclusive legal authority to establish voting standards for federal elections. Van Flein elaborated that the “U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to bar both the state judiciary and the state executive branch from altering the legislative standards. In our view, by now imposing a “voter intent” standard even though the legislature stated emphatically “no exceptions,” the state executive branch has unconstitutionally usurped the exclusive prerogative of the legislative branch.”
Miller concluded by noting that “We want a consistent application of the law, not new standards created literally 36 hours before the vote count is to start and after all the votes have been cast.”