Posted: November 10, 2010
Miller files federal case over counting write-in ballots in Alaska
Late yesterday, candidate for Senate Joe Miller filed a complaint in federal court asking the court to permanently enjoin election officials from counting any write-in ballot on which the spelling of the candidate’s name varies in any way from the name as written on the candidate’s write-in declaration of candidacy. Miller argues that the Director of the Division of Elections is violating the federal Elections Clause and Equal Protection Clause, as well as some state laws, by permitting officials to use discretion when determining whether a write-in ballot should count. Miller claims that Alaska statutes mandates that any written-in names not deviate from the declaration of candidacy, and any ballots that do so are “statutorily invalid.”
At issue are 92,528 write-in ballots, which constitute over 40% of the total votes cast for the Senate race. According to the Alaska Division of Elections, Miller currently has 35% of the vote. Incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary to Joe Miller, and the current battle focuses on the spelling of her name on write-in ballots.
Citing Bush v. Gore, Miller’s Equal Protection argument states that, while intent of the voter is a starting point, there must be “specific standards” and “uniform rules” to guide officials when determining voter intent. His claim is that Alaska statutes already provide that specificity, and the Director’s new guidance contradicts those standards.