Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Joe MIller Needs A Better Lawyer

In a few hours, the State of Alaska will begin to count the write-in ballots from the midterm elections. Expect results to be reported by state house district. There are roughly 11,500 more write-in ballots than ballots cast for Republican Joe Miller, so he is understandably concerned with exactly how those ballots are counted, and for whom they will be counted. His also-Republican opponent, Senator Lisa Murkowski, ran as a write-in candidate, and the presumption is that the vast majority of the 91,000 write-in votes will have her name on them.

Miller is seeking every advantage he can get, especially in knocking out any misspellings or permutations of Lisa Murkowski's name. To this end, he is seeking an injunction against the Department of Elections for implementing their plan to count ballots this year. Specifically, he contends that the directions allow for counting misspellings of Murkowski's name and would 1) incorrectly include 'protest votes' of people who intentionally misspelled her name (because people would apparently do that in Joe Miller-land) in Murkowski's vote total and 2) violate state law requiring the write-in section to contain the candidate's name "as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy" to count for that candidate. Joe Miller's legal team thinks that "as it appears..." requires perfect spelling. They note that the legislature says that there can be "no exception" to the rule that the name must be on the ballot "as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy."

Obviously, "as it appears..." is a very harsh standard, but that is what is required by law. Miller's suit notes that a vote cannot be counted if there is any deviation between the name of the candidate on the ballot and the name as it appears on the declaration of candidacy, "no exceptions." Alongside with deviant spelling, reasons for rejecting write-in ballots must include deviation in ink color, deviation in the size or shape of every individual letter, deviation in the placement of the dot over Murkowski's 'i', deviation in line thickness, and deviation in writing implement. Lisa Murkowski's campaign to provide supporters with wristbands that displayed her name clearly was mislead; they should have provided self-inking stamps to their supporters with the exact image of her signature "as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy." Of course, the original form would have to have been stamped with one too. With the write lawyering, Joe Miller could whittle down Murkowski's vote share to a literal 0. I don't know why he's wasting time with these amateurs who just want correct spelling when the standard that he's advocating for requires far more.

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