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Alaska Senate Write-In Vote Could Delay Results for Weeks

3 years ago
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There could be plenty of nail-biters as election results are tallied Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, but one race in particular might leave everyone hanging -- for weeks.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign against Joe Miller -- who defeated her in Alaska's GOP Senate primary -- and Democrat Scott McAdams is what threatens to gum up the works. The New York Times reports that the election could be decided quickly if either Miller or McAdams is clearly ahead after ballots are counted on election night. In either of those cases, a protracted inspection of the write-in votes would be unnecessary.

Lisa Murkowski, Joe Miller But that's a big if, and the mechanics of casting (and counting) a write-in vote could complicate the situation. To vote for a write-in candidate, the person must fill in an oval beside the write-in option and then write the candidate's name. All write-in ovals are tabulated together, since the computers cannot read handwriting. Determining what name was written in would take place only if the general write-in category comes in either ahead of or within half a percent of the lead after all ballots are counted.

If write-in ballots need to be counted, that wouldn't happen until about two weeks after Election Day, when as many as 30,000 absentee ballots -- which can be postmarked as late as Election Day -- are also tallied.

The Times reports that Alaska elections officials have not spelled out what they will accept from voters who misspell Murkowski's name or abbreviate it. The state director of elections has said that a vote would be counted if "voter intent" can be determined. And just to muddy the waters further, about 150 new candidates registered as write-ins on Friday, encouraged by a conservative radio host who supports Miller.

According to a new Public Policy Polling survey, Miller leads with 37 percent of voter support, with Murkowski and McAdams both with 30 percent. The poll was conducted Oct. 30-31 and had a margin of error of 2.5 points. Other polls over the last month have shown a virtual dead heat between Miller and Murkowski.
Filed Under: Poll Watch

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18 Comments

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pianomanref

So where were all these write-in voters during the primary? Something fishy in Alaska and it ain't the salmon.

November 04 2010 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fivehiers

Murkowski is a sore loser......

November 03 2010 at 10:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Patricia

I have visited Alaska on vacation a number of times and it seemed to be modern. This makes me wonder why they can't modernize their voting system. Should not take weeks. Sad.

November 03 2010 at 6:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jan

The ballot readers get to "determine voter intent?" In my humble, unasked for, opinion. In a write in, if you can't spell the candidate's name correctly why should "they" determine who you meant? What if another "write in" has a similiar name? Sounds mighty fishy to me.

November 03 2010 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bammaloney

My wish before I slept last night was that I could wake up to two things: First, A result that would inspire the Republican Leadership to be conciliatory with all, well mannered and wise. Second, a new and inclusive Republican party that represents a broader range of citizens as demonstrated by first generation children of immigrants reaching high office. The first is an aspiration but the second is a reality.

November 03 2010 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krs

This morning on the news they had a phone interview with Murkowski and she said "the people of Alaska have asked me to run". I thought the primary vote told her "to take hike".

November 01 2010 at 6:10 PM Report abuse +17 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to krs's comment
handmg

Unfortunately only 60,000 voted in the Republican primary.

November 01 2010 at 6:37 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ornurse362

Those relative few who voted in the Republican primary seemed to prefer someone else. However, there are more citizens in Alaska, and probably far more Republicans, than just those few. Perhaps these others might want Ms. Murkowski as their senator, over either Mr Miller or Mr McAdams.

November 01 2010 at 6:41 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
pjpilot

Vote for change in congress!

November 01 2010 at 2:04 PM Report abuse +28 rate up rate down Reply
tobi186

This woman is a typical egotistic politician. It doesn't matter to her that voters in AK voted against her in the primary...she's not done...and to her, that's what counts...not what the voters want. I'm so sick of these career politicians. We have them in MD too. I'm voting for change in Congress ! !

November 01 2010 at 1:44 PM Report abuse +44 rate up rate down Reply
Gil

Sure makes a lot of sense for this woman to become a write in candidate. When she decided to become one she said she wanted to give voters an option to Joe Miller. The voters had one when they voted in the primary and Miller kicked her butt. How many options should the voters have?? This woman is a typical career politician and wants to live off the taxpayers a lot longer. I sure hope she gets her butt handed to her on election day.

November 01 2010 at 1:28 PM Report abuse +46 rate up rate down Reply
pennyshelbycobra

lisa is conducting a campaign without the support of alaska citizens. she seems to think she can just deem herself the candidate and push her way to another term.....i will vote for joe miller !!!

November 01 2010 at 1:14 PM Report abuse +46 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pennyshelbycobra's comment
JACKIE

If you're over thirty and have been a citizen for at least seven years you're eligible to run for the senate. That's all the constitution requires and it applies to all citizens. And it looks like it may have worked. All the citizens of each state have a right to say who will represent them, not just the few who vote in the primaries.

November 03 2010 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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