Tags: Alaska Senate

Miller Attorney Makes Case to Alaska's High Court

Friday, 17 Dec 2010 06:52 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An attorney for Republican Joe Miller is telling Alaska's Supreme Court that the state should be held to a strict reading of election law and thousands of write-in ballots for rival Lisa Murkowski should be set aside.

The court is hearing Miller's appeal of a lower court ruling that tossed his challenge to the way the state conducted the election and counted votes for Murkowski in the U.S. Senate race.

Miller attorney Michael Morley says state law is clear, that write-in ballots must include the candidate's name, or the name as it appears on the declaration of candidacy. The state allowed for ballots with misspellings to be counted toward Murkowski's tally as it used discretion in determining voter intent.

Miller is seeking a re-count of all ballots.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Legal wrangling over Alaska's contested U.S. Senate race reaches the state Supreme Court Friday, with justices taking on Republican Joe Miller's appeal of a lower court ruling that equaled a victory for rival Lisa Murkowski.

He is appealing a state judge's decision to toss out his challenge to the state's handling of the election and its counting of write-in ballots for Murkowski, who lost to Miller in the Republican primary and ran a write-in campaign.

The state says it relied on case law to use discretion in determining voter intent, allowing for ballots with misspellings to be counted toward Murkowski's tally.

Murkowski led by more than 10,000 votes as a write-in candidate in last month's general election. She leads by 2,169 votes when ballots challenged by Miller's campaign are excluded. She has declared victory.

Miller argues the law should be strictly followed and that write-in ballots with misspellings should not be counted. He also says there were problems such as voters without proper identification being allowed to cast ballots.

His campaign also has said there needs to be a hand recount of Miller's ballots to ensure a "fair and accurate" tally.

"The fact that the legislature stated that there should be 'no exceptions' to the ballot counting method is what, in our view, should govern this matter," he said in a statement Monday, when he filed his appeal.

If he loses this case, Miller has said he would evaluate his legal options and may take his challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Miller initially sued in federal court, but U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said the state courts were in a better position, "at least initially," to determine the winner. He said, however, he could review constitutional issues once the case works its way through state courts

Beistline has halted certification of the election until state issues are resolved. But he said this week someone should be in place in the Senate by early January, when Congress convenes, even if that means later having to replace that person when all legal disputes are resolved.

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