Murkowski: No merit to Miller’s vote fraud claims

November 14, 2010

By Becky Bohrer-Associated Press

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s campaign declared she’s headed for re-election, saying rival Joe Miller’s unverified voter fraud claims and frivolous challenges of write-in ballots are pointing to his desperation.

Mrs. Murkowski, whose hopes for another term hinge on her winning a write-in effort, undisputedly held 89.8 percent of that vote with 45,132 ballots counted so far. That’s enough for her campaign to feel she’s poised to win, in spite of thousands of outstanding ballots yet to be counted and a pending legal case.

Another 9.5 percent of write-in ballots were challenged, though most of those were counted toward Mrs. Murkowski’s tally — coming on objections over misspellings or penmanship.

Shortly after the second day of write-in ballot counting began on Thursday, a Miller observer challenged a vote for Mrs. Murkowski that appeared to have her name spelled and printed correctly, though the “L” in “Lisa” was in cursive handwriting. Later, at least 10 ballots in which Mrs. Murkowski’s name appeared readable were challenged, including one in which the vote read: “Lisa Murkowski Republican.”

Mr. Miller’s campaign said observers are simply challenging votes that don’t meet the strict letter of the law — including those with minor misspellings of Mrs. Murkowski’s name or those with legibility or penmanship issues.

“The Murkowski campaign can say whatever it wants,” Chip Gerhardt, a Miller observer and attorney sent to the state by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “What’s going on here, our focus is on following the law.”

Murkowski spokesman John Tracy sees it this way: “What this says to us is, they’re simply trying to delay the inevitable.”

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