Former Lieutenant Governor Says Election Law Should Be Enforced

Anchorage, Alaska. November 19, 2010 — The Joe Miller Campaign filed its reply memorandum in support of a Motion for Preliminary Injunction yesterday to delay certification of the US Senate Election until a series of voting irregularities, that could affect the ultimate outcome of the Race, are addressed by the Division of Elections (“DOE”). The campaign asked a US Federal Court for the injunction in a pending case which seeks to determine the standard by which write-in votes are counted.

The Motion argues that the DOE moved the date of the count up and started counting earlier than expected which forced the Miller Campaign to fly many volunteers down to Juneau and prepare them for the vote challenge after the count had begun. “The necessity for volunteer challengers resulted from the fact that the DOE declared a standard other than the Alaska Statute which explicitly addresses what constitutes a valid write-in vote (AS 15.15.360 (11)). To this end, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction included an Affidavit sworn by former Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman, explaining how the DOE’s use of a standard other than the Alaska Statute is a deviation from established protocol that should be followed and therefore a political decision.

Leman stated in his affidavit: “If an election had been held during my tenure as Lieutenant Governor which write-in votes had to be counted, I would have directed the Division Director to follow a strict interpretation of election law, and let a Court direct otherwise if a candidate and the Court disagreed with the Division’s analysis.” He went on further to state: “Under my direction the Division would not have counted a write-in vote or accepted it as valid unless the candidate’s name was written correctly on the ballot, using the last name or the name as it appeared on the candidate’s write-in declaration of candidacy. The Division likewise would not have counted marred or otherwise damaged ballots.”

The affidavit supports the claim by the Miller Campaign that the standard being used for determining write-in votes is a change in practice and is solely the political decision of Lieutenant Governor Craig Campbell, originally an appointee of Governor Frank Murkowski. Campbell has instead decided to place the standard outside the bounds of the law and into the hands of an unelected bureaucrat, the Director of the DOE. This decision was made irrespective of the statute that clearly defines a legal standard for write-in votes, one that is entirely different than that applied by DOE over the past week.

Joe Miller addressed this by saying, “The problem we have here is that the current Lieutenant Governor, originally a Frank Murkowski appointee, has decided that the legislature’s law in this situation doesn’t matter. He has decided to make up his own law which pretty much gives the power to determine what votes should and shouldn’t count to one person (Gail Fenumiai), a person who is unelected and beholden to nobody but him. In doing so, he is establishing the precedent that Alaska’s Division of Elections is accountable to no law. Rather, the DOE will impose whatever standard the current Lieutenant Governor decides to impose, irrespective of statute. The ramifications of this situation go far beyond the current election. If the federal court chooses not to apply the law as written, Alaskans should be resigned to the integrity of elections being decided solely by the Lieutenant Governor’s commitment to the rule of law. In this case, that commitment is in serious question.”

The Miller Campaign will be filing an Amended Complaint and a separate Motion for Preliminary Injunction based on the unequal treatment the ballots received during the vote count. Lisa Murkowski’s were counted by hand, allowing those not automatically tallied by the voting machines to be reviewed and counted. If Miller’s ballots were given the same review, he will likely gain numerous votes.

The Miller Campaign is seeking to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that every write-in vote is held to the standard defined by state law. The Campaign is asking the court to stay the certification so that all votes cast in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race be held to the same statutory standard.