The man Tea Party-backed Republican Joe Miller has repeatedly assailed as a pawn of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) throughout the ballot counting process in Alaska's Senate race, is firing back at Miller, calling his lawsuit over write-in ballots "baseless."
Lieutenant Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees Alaska's elections process, said in a statement Tuesday that Miller's allegations are "baseless, but if left unanswered, I believe could make members of the public lose trust in a lawful, reliable and consistent process."
According to the Anchorage Daily News, Campbell said Miller's legal battle, which seeks to have more than 8,000 write-in ballots declared invalid, is simply an attempt to disenfranchise voters.
"While Mr. Miller claims that the state has gone outside its jurisdiction by using voter intent in counting ballots, we continue to point to various examples of case law throughout Alaska history, that show where the state courts have erred on the side of enfranchising voters when their intent is clear," Campbell said.
Murkowski was declared the winner last week, but state elections officials are barred from certifying the election results until Miller's lawsuit works its way through the courts.
Miller and Murkowski are also at odds over the location of the hearing. Miller wants the suit heard in Fairbanks, while the Murkowski camp is arguing it should be heard in Juneau. Murkowski's campaign said it intends to intervene, joining the suit on the side of the state.
In addition to his previous claim that state elections officials applied a faulty and arbitrary "voter intent" standard to the counting of write-in ballots, Miller argued in a 21-page brief filed Monday that numerous voters were permitted to cast ballots without providing identification to poll workers. The lawsuit claimed those voters should have been given "questioned ballots."
"State law is not a lunch menu where the Lt. Governor can pick and choose which laws he likes and will follow and which ones he doesn’t like. Deliberate indifference to the law cannot be condoned," Miller said in a statement Monday.
After state elections officials finished tallying all of the write-in ballots in the contest, Murkowski led by more than 10,000 votes. That's greater than the number of ballots the Miller campaign has challenged, leaving him with no clear mathematical path to victory even if a judge were to throw out all of the ballots in question.