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Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


Information & Analysis

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.

Commentary

Daniel P. Tokaji

What's the Matter with Kobach?

Daniel P. Tokaji

By "Kobach," I mean the Kobach v. EAC case in which the Tenth Circuit heard oral argument Monday – rather than its lead plaintiff, Kansas’ controversial Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who argued the position of his state and the State of Arizona. This post discusses what’s at issue in the case, where the district court went wrong, and what the Tenth Circuit should do.

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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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