December 23, 2010 in Nation/World

Alaska election lawsuit fails

Court upholds ruling against Miller
Sean Cockerham McClatchy
 
Murkowski’s lead

Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski mounted a write-in campaign after losing Alaska’s Republican primary to challenger Joe Miller. Unofficial results showed her leading by 10,328 votes following a tedious, weeklong handcount of ballots. Even when excluding all of the ballots challenged by Miller’s campaign, Murkowski still held a lead of 2,169 votes.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against Joe Miller on all counts, a decision that leaves his challenge of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s victory in last month’s U.S. Senate election on life support.

“There are no remaining issues raised by Miller that prevent this election from being certified,” the Supreme Court declared in its unanimous ruling.

Murkowski leads Miller by more than 10,000 votes.

Miller’s last chance is in federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline is giving Miller 48 hours to argue that the federal courts should take up any remaining constitutional issues.

Beistline has blocked the state from certifying Murkowski as the winner of the Senate race to allow the court issues to be settled. Beistline said he will decide “as soon as possible” on lifting his block following the Alaska Supreme Court ruling.

Miller has indicated he might fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but his spokesman said Wednesday that Miller’s next move hasn’t been decided.

“We are disappointed the Alaska Supreme Court has ignored the plain text of Alaska law and allowed the Division of Elections to effectively amend the state election code, without even giving the public an opportunity for notice and comment. We are reviewing the court’s ruling and will be weighing our options,” Miller spokesman Randy Desoto said in an e-mailed statement.

Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney said he was “elated” by the Supreme Court decision and expects Beistline will allow the election to be certified next week.

“We also anticipate that Joe will continue to pursue his baseless claims in federal court until his money runs out,” Sweeney said in a written statement.

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that Superior Court Judge William Carey was right to toss out Miller’s lawsuit over the Nov. 2 U.S. Senate race.

“We affirm the decision of the superior court in all respects,” the justices wrote in their ruling.

The Supreme Court found that the Alaska Division of Elections followed the law in counting misspelled ballots write-in ballots for Murkowski.

“Voter intent is paramount and any misspelling, abbreviation or other minor variation … does not invalidate a ballot so long as the intention of the voter can be ascertained,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

Miller has maintained that misspellings shouldn’t be allowed.


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