Miller argues misspelled Murkowski ballots should be seen as protest votes
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 8:53 am
GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller has officially filed suit in federal court against the Alaska Division of Elections’ announced rules for counting write-in votes that may be credited to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). The suit challenges the rules on a number of grounds. The main argument is that only a correctly spelled ballot, as opposed to a looser standard of “voter intent,” should be used to judge whether or not a ballot should be accepted, but Miller’s campaign also makes the claim, flagged by TPM’s Josh Marshall, that misspelled Murkowski ballots should in fact be interpreted not as votes for the senator but as protest votes against her. From the suit:
[T]he new policy makes no provision for the many voters who cast protest votes. Prior to the election, people commented on radio stations and in the comment sections in blogs and newspaper stories that they would deliberately incorrectly write-in a variation of “Murkowski” as a protest. They did so knowing that Murkowski was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a “spelling bee” campaign, replete with wrist bands, pencils and tattoos, all to educate the voters on proper spelling. Why was this done? Because even Murkowski had read the law and knew that it required proper spelling — “No exceptions.” So protest voters were trying to send a message to the candidate. The state has failed to create any guideline or standard that would account for the intent of the voter who intentionally cast a protest vote.
Marshall finds this argument pretty laughable, and at least from a legal standpoint, it would seem unlikely to hold water. Elections law expert Rick Hasen, however, thinks that Miller’s camp does have a few good arguments it could make — the most promising being a “due process claim” that argues the candidate’s rights were violated by a change in elections rules in the middle of the election.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.