Joe Miller’s Chances
By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
Joe Miller, the TEA Party’s candidate for senator in Alaska, the man who beat the incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary, reminds me of Norm Coleman with hanging chads thrown in. Coleman, at least, came close to winning the Minnesota senate race in 2008. When Al Franken won in a legally-required recount, Coleman sued in every court he could find to hear his case, keeping Franken from taking his rightful seat for more than six months.
Like Coleman, Miller is a man who won’t take No for an answer. TEA Party goers would say that’s true of Murkowski as well, and I won’t dispute them except to point out that Murkowski didn’t go to a court of law to dispute Miller’s win. Instead, she ran in the general election as a write-in candidate.
And it looks like she’s going to win. And it looks like Miller, who has already tried in court once, may well try again. And, if he follows Coleman’s example, again and again.
On election night an AP tally showed write-ins out-polling Miller by 92,979 to 82,180. Things looked grim for Miller, but all the write-ins had to be read and tallied. Miller went to court to get an order saying Murkowski had to be spelled absolutely correctly for a ballot to be counted. The judge cut the baby in half: Slight misspellings may be counted for Murkowski, but such ballots will be kept aside for further inspection if the write-in win is inconclusive.
Miller has a point. Alaska law seems to require that a ballot may be counted only
if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided….
But Election Law Blog notes
two previous Alaska cases in which ballots were counted for a candidate when voter intent was clear, even if the ballot wasn’t filled out correctly.
Here’s the cherry on this particular political sundae: Miller is arguing that
When a write-in ballot contains an unrecognized name not reflected on any candidate form, [election officials] will attempt (somewhat mystically) to divine the ‘intent of the voter’ in order to determine the candidate for whom that ballot should be counted.