By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A federal judge
Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Tea Party favorite Joe
Miller that challenged his loss in Alaska's election for a U.S.
Senate seat, clearing the way for state officials to certify
Lisa Murkowski's historic write-in victory.
U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline lifted an
injunction he imposed last month that delayed certification.
"The injunction is lifted and the Division of Elections may
certify the election results immediately," Beistline said in
Miller had filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Alaska
Division of Election's policy of counting write-in votes for
Miller claimed that the state's "voter-intent" standard,
which allowed for ballots with minor misspellings and
handwriting errors to be credited to Murkowski, violated state
law and the U.S. Constitution.
Miller also alleged that there were various instances of
voter fraud that padded Murkowski's lead.
The case was moved to state courts. A state Superior Court
judge ruled against Miller, and the state Supreme Court upheld
that ruling last Wednesday.
There is no reason for the federal court to contradict the
state's highest court, Beistline said in his ruling.
"Generally speaking, the Alaska Supreme Court is the final
expositor of Alaska law. That must be the case here," he said.
Miller, a Fairbanks attorney backed by the Tea Party
Express and by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, upset
Murkowski in the August Republican Party primary.
But Murkowski mounted a write-in effort that mobilized
moderate Republicans, independents and many Democrats. She
wound up beating Miller by over 10,000 votes in the general
election, or about 4.5 percent of the total votes cast.
The state, in a motion filed on Monday in the case, said
officials hoped to certify the election by Wednesday and send
the document, signed by the governor and lieutenant governor,
to the Secretary of the Senate.
The signed document will be hand-delivered to the Secretary
of the Senate by a state employee, and must be delivered by
noon on January 3 in order for Murkowski to be sworn in for her
second full term, the state's motion said.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Bohan)
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