Miller sues over spelling as Alaska write-in vote count continues

by
November 10, 2010

BY KYLE HOPKINS AND SEAN COCKERHAM, THE ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS

Votes that misspell Lisa Murkowski’s name shouldn’t count as the state today tallies write-in ballots in the U.S. Senate race, Senate candidate Joe Miller said in a federal lawsuit Tuesday.

Miller is asking a judge to stop the state from making a judgment on a voter’s intentions if the voter wrote in something other than “Murkowski” or “Lisa Murkowski.” State law allows no leeway for other spellings, his lawsuit says.

Despite the lawsuit, the state is preparing this morning to start checking and counting the more than 92,000 write-in ballots cast in last week’s election. Gail Fenumiai, the state’s elections director, said she plans to start this counting at 9 a.m.

The state counted about 27,000 absentee and early votes Tuesday, according to Fenumiai, with Miller gaining on the write-in total by about 2,100 votes. At the end of the day, Miller remained 11,333 behind the write-in total.

At the beginning of the day, Miller had been trailing by 13,439 votes.

The Murkowski campaign reacted to Tuesday’s lawsuit by accusing Miller of trying to toss out legitimate votes for the eight-year incumbent. “They’re trying to discount as many votes as possible from Alaskans,” Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney said.

Miller’s lawyer, Tom Van Flein, is asking a federal judge for a hearing this afternoon.

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