So now that the votes are in and Democrat Scott McAdams has dropped out, what happens next in the Alaska Senate race between Joe Miller and Sen. Lisa Murkowski?
In the end, 41% of the votes went to write-in candidates while 34.3% went to the Republican nominee Miller. Under Alaska election rules, all of the ballots will be counted to determine how many were for write-in candidate Murkowski. Only 23.6% went to McAdams.
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Sen. Murkowski launched a write-in bid after the tea party-backed Miller’s surprise victory in the Republican primary.
The Alaska Division of Elections will also count 26,306 absentee ballots that it has received so far, though the postmark deadline was Election Day so there are still more to come. There are also 10,645 questioned ballots according to the Anchorage Daily News, so there are a lot of votes potentially still in play for both Republican candidates. And a flood of last-minute write-in candidates, which was pushed by Miller’s conservative supporters, could mean that many of those unopened write-in ballots are not for Murkowski.
Originally, the state had planned to begin the count on November 18. But Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell says he wants to move the count up to start next week.
Here’s what will happen: The state will begin counting absentee ballots on Tuesday. The questioned ballots will be looked at later in the week. The count of the write-in ballots will begin on Wednesday in Juneau, and could continue through Friday. Absentee write-ins will be counted as they come in, and the final count will occur on November 17 for overseas absentees.
The process is allowed to be filmed.
Either candidate has five days after the results are certified to request a recount, and ten days from the certification date to contest the outcome.
Miller, for his part, objects to the expedited timeline. “We want to make sure the law is followed and that is something that hasn’t been done in some cases up until now,” he told CNN. He added: “We think it’s improper to suddenly hoist upon the Alaskans this idea that we are going to move it up by a week.”
And though he has a team of lawyers on-hand to help him in the fight over the numbers, he contends that Lt. Gov. Campbell is biased: “But in any event, it appears that his bias is playing out in the decisions that he’s making, especially those that are directly contrary to the law.”
But Miller did say in a statement on his website that he is hopeful: “Previous write-in campaigns in Alaska have demonstrated that as much as 5 to 6 percent of returned ballots have not met the standard to be counted as a valid vote.”
As the Daily News reports, “Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai said the state does not keep statistics on that and she has no idea where Miller’s numbers came from.”
She also says that despite a rough timeline, the count will “be a long, drawn-out process. It’s not going to be finished in five days.”