Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
A challenged ballot is shown Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010, in Juneau, Alaska.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) decision to run a write-in candidacy to remain in the Senate continues to pay off as she's getting an astonishing 98 percent of the write-in votes, despite her opponents' best efforts to hold down that percentage.
Also, while the Republican nominee for the Senate seat, Joe Miller, has already filed a federal lawsuit, taking issue with Alaska state officials' position that they can accept ballots for Murkowski even if her name is misspelled, he intends to file another.
That second lawsuit will request that state officials be ordered to hand over to his campaign voter rolls so they can be compared against the ballots, according to reports.
Miller, who was supported the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin, got 82,180 votes on Election Day. There were 92,979 write-in votes.
As of Thursday, less than 50,000 write-in ballots had been inspected. Assuming that figure of 98 percent of the write-ins going to Murkowski holds up, that would give her 91,119 votes give or take.
Miller would have to disqualify significantly more than 9,000 of her votes to withstand the challenges that would probably be made during a recount.
The Anchorage Daily News reports:
The Division of Elections has reviewed write-in ballots for almost half the precincts in Alaska and is counting nearly 98 percent of them for Lisa Murkowski. The Murkowski campaign is acting confident of victory and is accusing Joe Miller of taking "desperate" measures to try to win.
The state Thursday finished its second day of going through the write-in ballots in Juneau. More than 45,000 of them have been reviewed so far. Counting resumes this morning and is expected to continue through the weekend.
The Miller campaign argues state officials can't take into account "voter intent," that, according to state law, names must be spelled precisely.
But the Murkowski campaign has representing it one of the nation's top election lawyers, Republican Ben Ginsburg, who worked on the 2000 Florida recount and Bush v. Gore.
Ginsburg says he's got an Alaska precedent that cuts against the Miller campaign's argument. Another ADN excerpt:
He said the most recent court ruling was over the 2007 recount of the state legislative race between Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham and Carl Moses of Unalaska. That case was about marking the ovals properly, not misspelled write-ins. But the Alaska Supreme Court ruling on the case noted that "we have consistently emphasized the importance of voter intent in ballot disputes."
In any case, Ginsberg said, a "significant percentage" of the challenged ballots he's seen weren't even misspelled.
Separately, the Alaska Dispatch has a behind-the-scenes look at how Murkowski decided to go against the grain of history to launch her write-in effort.
Basically, after her primary loss to Miller, the political professionals told her to call it a day. But she got plenty of encouragement from the grassroots and her friends. A coin flip apparently finally helped Murkowski make up her mind.