Alaska Supreme Court Strikes Down Joe Miller’s Claims

Dec 22, 2010 6:11pm

ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: Sen. Lisa Murkowski today became one step closer to officially regaining her post in the Senate.

The Supreme Court today upheld a lower court’s decision and struck down Joe Miller’s claims that the Alaska Elections Division broke the law by counting write-in ballots that were misspelled but represented voter intent.

“We do not interpret the statute to require perfection in the manner that the candidate’s name is written on the ballot. Our prior decisions clearly hold that a voter’s intention is paramount,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

“It is Miller’s interpretation of the statute that would erode the integrity of the election system, because it would result in disenfranchisement of some voters and ultimately rejection of election results that constitute the will of the people,” the court added.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline also threw out Miller’s claim of election fraud. The candidate widely touted by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party has 48 hours to make his case on any outstanding issues. Miller’s campaign hasn’t yet said whether he will pursue the case.

"We are disappointed the Alaska Supreme Court has ignored the plain text of Alaska law and allowed the Division of Elections to effectively amend the state election code, without even giving the public an opportunity for notice and comment," Miller's campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said in a statement. "We are reviewing the court's ruling and will be weighing our options."

Beistline blocked the elections division from certifying the results to give Miller time to appeal.

Murkowski led Miller by more than 10,000 votes, thanks to a write-in campaign that was challenged by Miller every step of the way.

The incumbent senator – only the second in U.S. history to wage a successful write-in campaign — declared victory on Dec. 17, but Miller’s legal challenges kept the elections board from certifying the result.

Miller gained national stardom when he defeated Murkowski in a primary that stunned the political world. The attorney and father of eight had no prior political experience and few funds in his coffers, but he quickly gained momentum thanks to Palin’s endorsement and funding from the Tea Party Express. 

Miller’s popularity quickly fizzled as Murkowski began her own write-in campaign, despite being stripped off her post in the Republican leadership and losing the establishment’s support, and local media questioned his time as attorney at the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

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