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Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz

Information & Analysis

Alaska Recount Process


With 78% of the precincts reporting, Republican Joe Miller leads Democrat Scott McAdams 34% to 24%. But over 41% of the ballots were cast for write-in candidates. The obvious beneficiary of these write-in ballots is Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski, who lost the Republican primary to Miller. But the official winner will not be declared until it is determined which write-in ballots actually are for Murkowski. This is a process that could take several days.

Election officials in Alaska only begin counting write-in ballots if they exceed, in the aggregate, the number of votes received by the highest candidate on the ballot or if this difference is less than the amount necessary for a recount. Alaska Admin. Code tit. 6 § 25.085. Currently, 83,201 votes were cast for write-in candidates and 69,762 votes were cast for Miller. Although there were 161 names registered as write-in candidates, Lisa Murkowski is expected win the bulk of these write-in ballots.

The next move for Miller’s camp may be to challenge write-in ballots counted for Murkowski on the basis of incorrect spelling. Minor misspellings are likely to be counted by the state but significant misspellings could lead to disqualification. Both sides preparing for a legal battle over the counting of the write-in ballots and Miller’s campaign recently stated that “Previous write-in campaigns in Alaska have demonstrated that as much as 5 to 6 percent of returned ballots have not met the standard to be counted as a valid vote.”

If that is the case, then the margin of votes in Alaska might be enough to trigger a recount. Miller’s campaign will bear the cost of the recount if the margin between Miller and Murkowski is greater than 0.5% of their total combined votes. The state will bear the cost if the difference is equal to, or less than, 0.5%. Alaska Stat. § 15.20.450.

Any recount must be completed within 10 days. Alaska Stat. § 15.20.480. If a candidate wishes to challenge the result of the recount the candidate must appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court within 5 days of the recount certification. Alaska Stat. § 15.20.510.


Edward B. Foley

Of Bouncing Balls and a Big Blue Shift

Edward B. Foley

It is a fortuitous coincidence that the University of Virginia’s Journal of Law & Politics has just published a piece of mine that shows the relevance of the current vote-counting process in Virginia’s Attorney General election to what might happen if the 2016 presidential election turns on a similar vote-counting process in Virginia. 

Read full post here.

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In the News

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio treasurer receives OK to host town halls

Professor Daniel Tokaji was quoted in an article from the Associated Press about an attorney general opinion that allows the Ohio treasurer to conduct telephone town halls using public money. The opinion will likely have broad ramifications for the upcoming elections, Tokaji said.

“As a practical matter, while that legal advice is certainly right, very serious concerns can arise about whether these are really intended to inform Ohio constituents about the operations of his office or if they’re campaign events,” he said.

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Info & Analysis

Judge Denies Motion for Preliminary Injunction in NC Case

U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder denied the motion for a preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiffs in a case challenging a new North Carolina voting law as violating the Voting Rights Act and the federal Constitution. Judge Schroeder also denied the defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. The case is North Carolina NAACP v. McCrory.

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