98% Of Write-Ins Going To Murkowski

It will take until some time next week to count all the write-in ballots in the Alaska Senate race, but Lisa Murkowski has to be very pleased with the results so far:

JUNEAU — Almost 98 percent of write-in ballots opened Wednesday went to Lisa Murkowski on the first day of a count meant to decide Alaska’s U.S. Senate race.

The Division of Elections accepted few of the objections made by Joe Miller’s campaign to the ballots.

“So far things look really good for us,” said Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney, who is in Juneau watching the write-in ballot count.

Elections workers opened the write-in ballots for almost 20 percent of the precincts in Alaska on Wednesday. The count of more than 90,000 write-ins will continue today and is expected to last five days.

The Miller campaign hopes to pull out a victory in the race with a lawsuit asking the federal courts to force the state to toss out misspelled ballots.

A federal judge denied Miller’s request to immediately stop the count while the complaint is considered but said he will hear both sides next week.

Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said the votes challenged by Miller’s ballot observers are being segregated in boxes and the lawsuit will determine whether they go to Murkowski in the end.

“That’s what it’s going to come down to,” DeSoto said.

It appears as though Miller needs to keep about 12 percent of the write-ins from going for Murkowski. More than 89 percent of the write-ins counted Wednesday were unchallenged votes for Murkowski, and there is a possibility if that trend continues the lawsuit might not even matter.

Another 8.5 percent of the write-in votes opened Wednesday were challenged by Miller ballot observers but awarded to Murkowski. Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai made that call after looking over each of the challenged ballots.

Fenumiai said she accepted minor misspellings. “If I can pronounce the name by the way it’s spelled, that’s the standard I’m using,” Fenumiai said.

Fenumiai overruled the Miller campaign’s challenges on ballots like those spelled “Merkowski,” “Murkowsky,” and “Murcowski.” They’ll be reviewed in the expected recount, if not the courts.

Miller campaign observers successfully challenged only 1.44 percent of the 19,203 ballots counted on Wednesday. Fenumiai agreed with challenges by the Miller campaign of ballots like “McCosky,” “Misskowski” and “Morcowski.”

If this trend continues, it’s looking very much like Miller’s lawsuit will be moot, and the Lisa Murkowski will be heading back to Washington.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    It’ll be tight, though, if the phonetic misspellings are thrown out — assuming the percentages remain constant.

  2. TG Chicago says:

    One thing I wonder about the misspellings like “McCosky” — does it actually say “Lisa McCosky”? If so, that makes it seem almost certain that voter intent is a vote for Murkowski.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Alaska state law says it must duplicate the spelling on the list of write in candidates published prior to the election. The law states there are no eceptions. Murkowski spent a great deal of money to make sure people knew how to spell her name. I understand they also had to fill in the oval next to the name to indicate that is who they were voting for. Each state has the right to decide its own voting proceedures. Murkowski is a sore loser, and a RINO.

  4. Zelsdorf

    If you had actually looked at the statute instead of repeating with Hannity, Levin, or whatever right wing talking head you get your information from said, you’d know that the law does not require exact spelling

  5. mantis says:

    Murkowski is a sore loser

    Who is going to, umm, win. Sounds more like Miller is the sore loser here.