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Joe Miller Won’t Block Murkowski Certification

Eric Engman/Getty Images
Hand count board member Alden Balalong holds up a questionable ballot to be reviewed as the State of Alaska Division of Elections tallies the Senate write-in ballots in November in Juneau.

Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller announced early Monday morning he will not challenge the certification of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in victory, bringing the contentious Alaska race to a conclusion weeks after the Republican Senator won her rollercoaster re-election bid.

In a statement, Miller said he would not oppose the state’s certification even though he still disagrees with court rulings that allowed misspelled versions of Murkowski’s name to count toward her winning total. Miller said he will pursue a federal lawsuit for the sake of “election integrity” but wanted to make sure Alaska would have its full delegation seated for the 112th Congress next month.

“This decision will allow Alaskans to focus on bringing fairness and transparency to our elections process without distraction of the certification issue,” Miller said.

Last week a judge ruled against Miller on every count, stating in a 24-page decision that the court’s “prior decisions clearly hold that a voter’s intention is paramount.”

“We do not interpret the statute to require perfection in the manner that the candidate’s name is written on the ballot,” the decision said. “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.”

Miller’s lawyers had questioned if the Constitution’s election clause was violated “by ignoring the legislature’s mandatory provisions for write-in candidates” and had charged there were different vote-counting standards applied to Murkowski, who he defeated in an August Republican primary. Miller also has charged that “at least hundreds of felons” were allowed to vote.

“I have decided that the federal case must go forward. The integrity of the election is vital and ultimately the rule of law must be our standard,” Miller said in his Monday morning statement.

Complicating the legal proceedings is a move from Miller’s campaign attorney, Thomas Van Flein, who will be coming to Washington as deputy chief of staff to Arizona Rep.-elect Paul Gosar. Van Flein also was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s attorney.

Alaska sources have told Roll Call they believe Miller may seek another office. In announcing his decision via email, the tea-party-backed candidate included a link to a donation page on his campaign site.

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