Sen. Lisa Murkowski is one step away from being certified the winner of the Senate race in Alaska after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon ruled against Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller on every count.
The last hurdle is a federal court stay on the election certification. The Anchorage Daily News reported that U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline gave Miller two days to decide whether to continue his fight in federal court.
Miller had appealed a lower court’s ruling upholding the validity of the state’s use of voter intent to count write-in votes. But the Supreme Court disagreed, stating in a 24-page decision that its “prior decisions clearly hold that a voter’s intention is paramount.” Miller has been challenging the misspelled write-in ballots that election officials believe showed support for Murkowski.
“We do not interpret the statute to require perfection in the manner that the candidate’s name is written on the ballot,” the decision stated. “In light of our strong and consistently applied policy of construing statutes in order to effectuate voter intent, we hold that abbreviations, misspellings, or other minor variations in the form of the name of a candidate will be disregarded in determining the validity of the ballot, so long as the intention of the voter can be ascertained.”
The Miller campaign has not yet decided what it will do.
“We are disappointed the Alaska Supreme Court has ignored the plain text of Alaska law and allowed the Division of Elections to effectively amend the state election code, without even giving the public an opportunity for notice and comment,” Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said in a statement. “We are reviewing the court's ruling and will be weighing our options.”
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