NPR logo Alaska Judge Hurts Lisa Murkowski's Write-In Effort

Election 2010

Alaska Judge Hurts Lisa Murkowski's Write-In Effort

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Oct. 13, 2010 in Anchorage, Alaska. Michael Dinneen/AP Photo hide caption

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Michael Dinneen/AP Photo

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican waging a write-in candidacy to remain in the Senate, received a significant setback Wednesday.

A state judge said polling-place officials can't provide voters with lists of write-in candidates to make it easier for those voting for candidates whose names don't appear on the ballot. Like Murkowski's, for instance.

The ruling was a victory for both the Alaskan Republican and Democratic parties who both sued to prevent the distribution of lists to help voters with the names of write-in candidates.

According to news reports, state election officials had been providing early voters with the names of write-in candidates.

But the state judge said the officials' actions were contrary to long-standing practices and ordered them to stop.

From the Alaska Dispatch:

RulingĀ against the Division of Elections (PDF), State Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner wrote that for the first time in Alaska's election history, the Division of Elections has provided a list of the names and party affiliations of write-in candidates to each polling place in the state. "The actions of the Division are in clear violation of an Alaska administrative regulation," he wrote.

The Division of Elections has asked the Alaska Supreme Court to review the ruling. In an e-mail, elections director Gail Fenumiai said "We have filed a petition for review with the Alaska Supreme Court asking that the superior court's decision be reversed, and a request for an emergency stay of the superior court's decision." In the meantime, Fenumiai said, the lists are being pulled from voting locations across the state.

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The judicial ruling was finally some good news for Joe Miller, the official Republican nominee and Tea Party movement-backed candidate, who's experienced a series of mostly self-inflicted wounds recently.

It was also good news for Scot McAdams, the Sitka mayor and Democrat nominee, who could benefit from any anti-Miller voters who can't remember Murkowski's name or want to bother writing it in.

State officials indicated they would appeal the ruling.