Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller has filed a federal lawsuit saying election officials should throw out every write-in ballot on which the name of his rival and fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is misspelled. The state has been allowing votes for "Merkowski," "Mirkowski," and other near misses where "voter intent" seemed clear, and Murkowski's campaign says discarding those ballots would be unfair. But Miller says Alaska law is clear — voters have to nail the spelling or their ballots don't count, no exceptions. Is he clutching at straws? (Watch an AP report about Miller's challenge)
Yes, Miller is pushing this too far: One can't fault Joe Miller for trying, says Alex Pareene at Salon. The Tea Party favorite came so close to unseating Murkowski, but it's now pretty clear he doesn't have "a shot at legitimately winning this thing." He's claiming people who misspelled "Murkowski" might have been casting "protest" votes that they knew wouldn't count. That's far-fetched, and "even if 8 percent of write-ins are tossed — which is his hopeful estimate" — Miller still loses.
"Joe Miller's recount lawsuit cites 'Bush v. Gore'"
Miller is right — spelling matters: Joe Miller's lawsuit "might seem overly formalistic and harsh," says blogger Patterico at Patterico's Pontifications, but "he's right" — "a write-in candidate's name must be written 'as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy.'" The law says "no exceptions," and Murkowski knows it. Otherwise she wouldn't have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a "spelling bee" campaign, distributing wrist bands and pencils to make sure voters got her name right.
"Joe Miller sues to require exact spellings of Murkowski's name for write-in votes"
This promises to be very interesting: If the courts uphold the election law as written, says Allahpundit at Hot Air, all 10 percent of the ballots Miller is challenging "are headed down the toilet," and he could win. He already has whittled down Murkowski's lead to 11,000, with 90,000 write-in ballots still to be counted. Of course, the state supreme court could decide that "voter intent" matters most. "Fun times ahead!"
"Report: 98 percent of write-in ballots counted thus far are for Murkowski"