The write-in ballots haven’t even been opened yet, but Joe Miller is already calling foul play in the vote count for the Alaska Senate race.Miller (R) is the Tea Party-backed candidate battling write-in candidate and incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) for the seat. Enough write-in ballots were cast last Tuesday to force a count of the votes to determine how many were for Murkowski. Miller has received 69,762 votes, while 83,201 write-in ballots have been counted so far. And with Miller and Murkowski already assembling legal teams, the fight over the seat promises to be a doozy.
Which may be why Miller has already started to raise questions about the fairness of the count.
First, he released a statement objecting to the decision to move up the count to this week. Originally, the Division of Elections announced that the write-in votes would be counted on November 18. But last week they pushed it up to this Wednesday, the 10th.
“Given the geographical and financial challenges of getting observer teams assembled in Juneau,” Miller said in the statement, “the earlier date makes it extremely difficult to honor the process, set out by law. The Miller Campaign is concerned with ensuring a fair and accurate counting of the ballots.”
Next, Miller questioned the partiality of the Lt. Governor when it comes to overseeing the ballot-counting process. Matt Lewis of Politics Daily reported that in a conference call with bloggers on November 4, Miller claimed that Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell was appointed by Murkowski and has ties to her family, adding that “it appears that his bias is playing out in the decisions that he’s making, especially those that are directly contrary to the law.”
One decision he cited was to not count write-in ballots that had the name “Joe Miller” written down as votes for Miller. Campbell released the following statement in response:
To provide clarity on the issue of write-in votes for U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller, if the write-in votes are cast properly, they will be counted.
As the write-in vote count proceeds next week, we want to assure that the public has accurate information regarding the process. All decisions made are based on state statute and vetted through the Alaska Department of Law.
The Alaska Dispatch also points out that Campbell was in fact appointed by then-Governor Sarah Palin in 2009, and not by Murkowski. Palin had been an ardent backer of Miller before the election, though since Election Day she has been noticeably silent with her support.
On Saturday, Miller released a statement noting that his campaign is “concerned that the Absentee Ballot validation process began yesterday at 10 a.m without notification to the campaign.” Miller said: “All Alaskans deserve a free, open and fair election. Unfortunately, the State Division of Elections has decided to call that process into question with the constant maneuvering of dates and procedures.”
“Our democratic voting process has at its foundation the Constitution and the statutes of this state, and any manipulation of this process for the purposes of expediency or convenience compromises those principles,” the statement said.
But Gail Fenumiai, the director of the Alaska Division of Elections, responded that the Miller campaign failed to comply with notification rules, the Fairbanks News-Miner reports. “Campaigns and parties identify a primary contact person for each election,” she said. “The Miller campaign did not identify such a contact person for the November general election and therefore did not receive individualized notice of the ballot review times.”
The Miller campaign contested this to the News-Miner: “The division was well aware that the campaign’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, was the election contact,” but “if the state really had any doubt, a simple phone call or e-mail to check would have been appropriate.”
To top it all off, Miller is also alleging that a federal contractor electioneered for Murkowski at a military job site right before the election. Here’s the clip of the worker, which was shown Friday on Fox News when Miller appeared on Huckabee:
“This raises still more concerns about the corrupting influence of federal contracting in Alaska and the role federal tax money illegally played in influencing this election,” he said in a statement today.