The counting of votes in the 2010 Alaska U.S. Senate race is moving along fairly briskly. On Wednesday and Thursday, absentee votes for Joe Miller cut into Lisa Murkowski's large lead. On Thursday the Miller campaign was challenging Murkowski write-in ballots so aggressively, they were flagging ballots on which one of the letters in Murkowski's name was in cursive. And they challenged another where the person had written in "Merkowski," and then had written a "u" over the "e."
Even with such challenges as those Murkowski's lead over Miller early Saturday is about 10,050, with most of the regular write-in votes now counted:
The count stands at 98,565 write-ins and 87,517 votes for Miller after Friday's tally of absentee and questioned votes. That tally slightly widened the margin of write-ins over Miller to 11,048 votes.Nearly 98 percent of those write-ins are being counted for Murkowski so far. More than 90 percent of Murkowski's write-in votes are not being challenged.The Miller campaign has successfully challenged just 1.5 percent of the 69,249 write-in ballots that have been reviewed. The ballots unsuccessfully challenged by Miller are being segregated in boxes, and the courts could have the final say.Miller has filed a lawsuit asking federal courts to force the state to throw out ballots that misspell Murkowski's name. He argues state law doesn't allow misspellings. But even if Miller's lawsuit succeeds, Murkowski could still have enough votes to win.The Division of Elections has finished going through the write-ins for nearly 72 percent of the precincts in Alaska. That doesn't count the absentee and early vote write-in ballots, which will be reviewed this weekend and into next week.
Late Thursday, Miller's new campaign strategist, Floyd Brown, entered the scene. Brown is the creator of the Willie Horton ads, run against presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. He was heavily involved in creating false stories about Bill Clinton's past in Arkansas, and was a co-founder of Citizens United.
Soon after Brown took over aspects of Miller's campaign, their camp began playing a race card, suing to obtain voter rolls from several small towns and villages, composed mostly of Alaska Natives. The majority of Alaska Native organizations, including the very influential Alaska Federation of Natives, backed Murkowski over Miller and Scott McAdams in the election. Several Native corporations assisted Murkowski materially, especially in October. Although a few Native precincts around the state went for McAdams, none came even close to going for Miller.
At a news conference in Juneau Friday afternoon, Brown asserted that write-in ballots in Cordova had "the name "Lisa Murkowski" all written in the same handwriting. Miller adviser Floyd Brown said the campaign would be asking for a handwriting analysis of those ballots."
Brown also complained that the security firm hired by the state to assure ballot security in Juneau has allowed illegal access to the ballot storage boxes and stacks. The security firm is owned by a local Juneau Native corporation:
In today's story about this in the Anchorage Daily News, anti-Native commenters are crawling out of their holes, just as Brown is hoping. Here's a sample:
Goldbelt Security is handling the ballots. It is a subsidiary of Goldbelt, the local Native corporation for Juneau. Brown hit on the fact Murkowski has a bill to benefit Sealaska, the regional Native corporation for Southeast Alaska, and that Sealaska officials backed her campaign.
The Alaska Division of Elections is hoping to process all the write-in, absentee and early ballots that have arrived so far by the end of this coming week. Although absentee ballots must be postmarked by election day, the state will not stop accepting them from overseas until November 17th.
I cant help but notice a high number of Native looking people in the photographs. Are they members of the Native Union who threw its support of Lisa. I hope someone is watching.
It should be noted that in the 2008 Alaska IU.S. Senate race, Mark Begich's votes did not pass those of Sen. Ted Stevens in the late counting until early on November 18th. That race was much closer, with higher voter participation than in this mid-term election, and with a completely different dynamic than this strange 2010 Senate race.
I expect Murkowski's lead to hold.
I'm working with a group that is seeking to have Joe Miller disbarred for illegally hacking, altering and deleting files from his fellow attorneys' computers in Fairbanks back in the winter of 2008. The information came out in October, due to the media lawsuit compelling release of some of Miller's personnel records while working in Fairbanks as a municipal attorney. I'm also trying to get the handcuffs that were used to cuff Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger at a Joe Miller event on October 17th. I'm going to get them bronzed for Tony. The Alaska Dispatch lawsuit and the illegal arrest of Tony probably did more to change public perception of Miller than anything else.