Joe Miller Loses Election Recount Lawsuit

An Alaska state court judge has dismissed Joe Miller’s lawsuit challenging the results of the Alaska Senate race:

A Superior Court judge has ruled on all counts against Joe Miller’s challenge of Alaska’s election for U.S. Senate. The judge on Friday found the state tallied the ballots properly and there was no evidence for Miller’s suggestions that fraud tainted the election.

The state judge, William Carey of Ketchikan, gave Miller until early next week to appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court. The timing is critical because a federal judge has blocked certification of Sen. Lisa Murkowski as the winner until the lawsuit is settled.

The newly elected Senate is to be sworn in Jan. 5, and state officials have argued that Alaska will be left with just one senator, Democrat Mark Begich, until the election is certified. Murkowski argues a delay could cost her seniority and top positions on committees.

Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said the decision on whether to appeal is “under advisement.” DeSoto said by e-mail that Miller wants a hand recount and for the state to toss out Murkowski ballots that he disputes.

“When we’ve ensured that these issues have been addressed, then we’ll have an accurate count, and if Lisa Murkowski’s tally is greater than Joe’s, then he will certainly honor that result,” DeSoto wrote.

Murkowski issued a statement Friday saying it’s time for Miller to give up after decisively losing in court and trailing by more than 10,000 votes more than a month after Election Day.

In the one area of the case that has drawn the most attention, the judge ruled that ballots where Murkowski’s name was mis-spelled could still be counted in her favor:

Much of the court battle was over Miller’s claim that the state shouldn’t have counted misspelled ballots. Elections Director Gail Fenumiai has said her standard for accepting ballots was “if I can pronounce the name by the way it’s spelled.”

The judge found that was OK, saying Alaska Supreme Court decisions have found that the state’s emphasis should be on making sure voters aren’t disenfranchised. He supported the state’s reliance on “voter intent” in the Senate race.

Miller argued state law doesn’t allow misspelling or state judgments of what the voter intended when writing in a candidate’s name. The law says write-in votes should be counted if the name “as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate, is written in the space provided.”

The judge focused on the fact that the word “appears” is a part of a definition.

“The definition of ‘appears’ in this context does not require perfection or precision, but rather a close, apparent approximation known to the viewer upon first look … if exact spellings were intended by the legislature, even with respect to the most difficult names, the legislature could have and would have said so,” Carey wrote in his ruling.

At this point, it’s beyond time for Miller to give up.

You can read the ruling here.

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. Aaron Worthing says:

    Well, i was supportive of Miller’s appeal because I felt the law was on his side. The problem is the facts aren’t. According to the court, even counting only the uncontested ballots for Murky, she still wins. That is, even if he is right on every legal issue, he still loses.

    i write about it, here: