The state of Alaska paid about $100,000 to fight Republican senate candidate Joe Miller’s failed challenge of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s win in November, according to testimony by an assistant attorney general.
The Alaska Dispatch reports that the Senate State Affairs Committee of the Alaska Legislature is considering a bill to allow minor misspellings or abbreviations on write-in ballots to be counted if “voter intent” can be determined. Miller had argued in his suit that determining voter intent was against Alaska law, and therefore write-in ballots with misspellings of Lisa Murkowski’s name should not be considered.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat who chairs the state affairs committee, said the cost to the public of a serious challenge to a write-in campaign is one main reason to clarify the law. Assistant attorney general Sarah Felix, one of a number of state attorneys involved in the Joe Miller case, told the committee that the legal wrangling, mainly in the state Superior Court, cost the state $85,000 to $100,000. The state is currently seeking to recover 20 percent of the cost — about $17,000 — from Miller, the maximum amount allowed under the law.
Miller finally ended the lawsuit and conceded the race on December 31, almost two months after election night.