Republican Joe Miller said Monday he's ready for the looming ballot fight with Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Trump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear MORE (R-Alaska), which gets underway Tuesday as state elections officials begin counting thousands of absentee ballots. 

The count of write-in votes will begin Wednesday.


In an interview Monday on CNN, Miller said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the count would turn out in his favor, but he continued to express concern over how the process is unfolding. 

The number of write-in votes cast on Election Day in Alaska leads Miller's vote total by 7 percent. It translates into a lead of some 13,000 votes over Miller, meaning the Republican nominee will have to find a way to invalidate a sizable portion of write-in ballots to have any chance of defeating Murkowski. 

The ballot fight will center on determining voter intent, and Miller has already cast doubt on the impartiality of the state board of elections. The Miller campaign criticized the board's decision to move up the count of write-in ballots, which was initially not scheduled to begin until Nov. 18, and has suggested officials are stacking the deck against him.

State elections officials have said write-in ballots will likely be counted if the intent of the voter is clear, even if Murkowski's last name is not spelled properly to the letter.  

"We're going to be the kind of candidate that looks to the law and expects the rule of law to be applied in this case," Miller said Monday. "The people of the state of Alaska elected a legislature that enacted a law that controls exactly how these ballots are to be treated. That's what we're going to insist upon, is that the rule of law is applied."

The Miller camp is set to argue that write-in votes without the proper spelling of Murkowski's last name should be thrown out.

Miller has also taken aim at the state's Lieutenant Governor Craig Campbell, who he has derided as a Murkowski appointee. The Miller campaign worried that write-in votes cast for Miller would not be counted, but Campbell has said they would be counted toward Miller's total if the votes were "cast properly," even though Miller is not a write-in candidate.   

There are some 37,000 absentee ballots still to be counted along with the write-in ballots and Miller said he expects the absentees "will run strongly in our favor."

Both sides have lawyered up for the battle, with Murkowski tapping noted election lawyer Ben Ginsberg to head her legal team. 

If Murkowski holds on she would be the first to win election to the Senate as a write-in since the late-Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) did it in 1954.