Sen. Murkowski halfway to victory as vote counting continues in Alaska

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is edging closer to a reelection victory.

She has taken close to 98 percent of some 45,000 write-in ballots counted so far in Alaska. A total of 92,979 write-in votes were cast on Election Day — Murkowski needs about 88 percent of those in order to surpass the 82,180 votes her Republican challenger, Joe Miller, took.

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Miller’s vote counting observers have continued to challenge Murkowski ballots that were spelled accurately and looked to be filled out properly, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The challenged ballots often had a wrong letter in Murkowski's last name or her party affiliation written on the ballot next to it.


Less than two percent of the Miller camp’s challenges have been successful. Another 8 percent of the write-ins it challenged were overturned and counted for Murkowski. But state Elections Director Gail Fenumiai has set those aside as "counted but challenged." The courts could decide whether they count toward Murkowski’s vote total.


Meanwhile, the state of Alaska is trying to have Miller's lawsuit challenging the counting process thrown out of federal court.

Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton Walsh has filed a motion to dismiss Miller’s case, noting state courts are the proper forum to interpret Alaska election law and the actions of state officials. Unless the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled on the case, Miller has no legal basis to make a federal legal challenge, Walsh wrote.

Still, the Miller campaign is considering more legal action. Miller adviser Floyd Brown said the campaign is planning a new lawsuit to get the voter rolls from the Division of Elections. The goal would be to compare ballots counted in each precinct with the number of people who signed the rolls, according to Brown.

In response, a spokesman for Murkowski said it had become a "desperate time" for Miller.

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