Miller Still Leads In Uncontested Ballot Count

Anchorage, Alaska. November 14, 2010 — After 5 days of write-in ballot counting, Republican nominee Joe Miller still leads incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the uncontested write-in ballot count. As of Sunday night, 88,076 of the total 98,565 write-in votes have been counted and Miller has 87,517 uncontested votes and Murkowski only has 78,697. If current trends hold, Miller and Murkowski will likely end up in a dead heat in the uncontested ballot count.

Tomorrow, approximately 8,800 absentee ballots are due to be counted as well as 1,000 overseas (mostly military) ballots. Miller has had a very strong showing in the absentee ballots and particularly among the military community. Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said, “If previous trends hold for the absentee ballot count, it is possible for Joe to gain as many as 1,000 votes against Lisa Murkowski tomorrow.”

The next issue will be determining the standard to apply for ascertaining the validity of challenged ballots. Desoto said, “The obvious standard must be the law. We are a nation of laws, not of men.” DeSoto also explained that, “The Lieutenant Governor, following the announcement of Lisa Murkowski’s write-in candidacy, stated that the law would be applied, as written. We expect to hold the state to the law. The time and place to alter the law is in the legislature. The Division of Elections’ actions here to modify clear law is troubling and concerning. After 50 years of state elections, the Division of Elections has all of a sudden adopted all sorts of new procedures just for this election. We are watching this to ensure this election is transparent, fair and legitimate. So far, what we have seen, should give the voting public pause.”

The law in Alaska is clear: “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.” [AS 15.15.360 (11)]

The law also states (in a provision conveniently ignored so far by the State and Murkowski) that “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.” [AS 15.15.360 (b)]. For reasons never explained, the State and Murkowski now claim that, even though the law bars exceptions for everyone else, there will be exceptions for Lisa Murkowski. Said Joe Miller, “We need one standard for everyone. It makes no sense to create all these new exceptions just for Lisa Murkowski. I have said from the beginning, I want a fair election and I want the law followed. I don’t think that is too much to ask.”

DeSoto added, “Lisa Murkowski spent hundreds of thousand of dollars on her spelling bee ad making it very clear that she knew what standard was expected and what had been applied for decades in this state prior to her write-in bid. She spent tens of thousands of dollars on wristbands, pencils, brochures, and temporary tattoos emphasizing the need for proper spelling. She even convinced the Division of Elections to provide (and went to court to make sure it continued to provide), for the first time in 50 years and, in violation of its own regulations, a write-in list so that voters would know how to spell her name properly. Then, the Division of Elections took the extraordinary step of changing the standard, just 36 hours prior to the start of the count to a newly created “voter intent” and/or phonetic standard.” Miller observers have seen the Division of Elections apply the statute’s standard (“name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy”) to other declared write-in candidates while applying the voter intent/phonetic standard to Murkowski’s. DeSoto noted, “The integrity of the vote is at issue. The people of Alaska need to know the law is king, and just because you’re a Murkowski doesn’t mean that the rules get changed to your benefit.”

The Miller Campaign has filed a suit in federal court last week to uphold the rule of law in Alaska. The brief from the state of Alaska is due tomorrow and Miller’s is due November 18th.