Sen. Lisa Murkowski filed a motion on Wednesday to intervene in Joe Miller’s lawsuit against the state of Alaska and the Alaska Division of Elections, arguing that she deserves to be a party to the suit “to keep those thousands of voters from being disenfranchised by Mr. Miller.”
In the motion, Murkowski’s attorney Scott M. Kendall wrote that “there are numerous critical issues facing our nation and Alaskans deserve to have full representation in the United States Senate.”
Murkowski declared victory last week after pulling ahead of Miller by more than10,000 votes. Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate after losing to Miller in the Republican primary, and though the Miller campaign contested many of the ballots that the state counted for Murkowski, she still wound up ahead by over 2,000 votes.
Miller filed suit in state court this week arguing that counting misspelled ballots as votes for Murkowski is against the law, adding that had he had more time to train his team to contest ballots, Murkowski’s margin of victory would have been smaller or non-existent. Miller also contends that Murkowski had an unfair advantage since her ballots were counted by hand, while his were counted by machines that occasionally reject ballots with stray marks. He is asking for a hand recount of all of the ballots in his suit.
Miller and Murkowski are also debating where the case should be heard. Miller wants it heard in Fairbanks, while Murkowski and the state want the case to be heard in Juneau. According to the Anchorage Daily News:
Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai said in an affidavit that ballots and precinct registers are secured in a room with locks and alarms in Juneau and a similar secure facility would not be available in Fairbanks on short notice without significant cost.
She also said the 35 temporary election workers who sorted and counted write-in ballots, plus six full-time staff members who participated, all live in Juneau and it would be inconvenient for them to testify in Fairbanks.
Murkowski’s attorney also asked the judge to expedite the case, since she may lose her seniority in the Senate if she is not seated by January 3. According to the motion, if there is a “gap in service,” Senate rules could bump Murkowski from her spot, and “she would go from her current rank of 43rd to 100th.” Murkowski might also not be eligible for re-election as a ranking member to the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee if she is not seated immediately, the motion argues.