Politics

Miller says he’s seeing write-in votes for himself in Alaska

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Joe Miller says Lisa Murkowski isn’t the only one getting write-in votes in the Alaskan Senate race.

“There are some write-ins for Joe Miller,” the Republican said by phone from Anchorage. “Every one of 15 tables — when I checked this morning — had write-ins for Joe Miller, which is kind of interesting.”

As of this morning, Miller had a total of 81,195 votes. Of 92,528 write-in votes, most are thought to be for Murkowski, who launched an aggressive write-in campaign after losing the GOP primary to Miller. The process to count write-in votes began Wednesday.

But Miller, who says he’s confident of overcoming what looks like a deficit, is also counting on having some of those ballots thrown out.

“There are also a significant amount that are being challenged,” he said. “I don’t know what the rate is. Anecdotally, 7 or 8 percent is what we heard. We feel pretty good. It’s going to be a pretty close race, there’s no doubt about it.”

The historical rate of disqualification of write-in votes, Miller said, is about 8 percent.

There had been some disagreement, however, as to whether any write-in votes for Miller will contribute to his total, but election officials now say they will.

Neither Gail Fenumiai, the director of elections in Alaska, nor Murkowski’s campaign immediately returned a request for comment.

As for how involved Miller has been in the ballot counting effort, Miller says he’s been playing the role of cheerleader. “I’m not really getting involved in the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day operations and nor should I,” he said. “We got people competent on the ground to take care of those type of issues.”

Miller says he has spent some time considering a possible transition to Washington as a senator: “It is not something that is being ignored during this process.”

Despite reports suggesting otherwise, Miller said former Gov. Sarah Palin has been “very supportive” during the ballot counting process. She recently donated $5,000 from her PAC to his effort.

But in terms of dealing with Alaskan officials over the election, Miller acknowledged that he hasn’t “been satisfied with the way things have gone to date.”

“We’re concerned about process. We’re concerned about the state’s approach,” he said.

Topics of concern, Miller said, include how guidelines for counting write-ins were only released by officials this week. Miller claims parts of those guidelines violate state statue, and has filed a federal lawsuit contesting it. He’s particularly challenging a section saying ballots with Murkowski’s name spelled wrong count. Miller also said that Alaskan officials decided to count the write-in ballots earlier than expected, which “really created major problems for us.”

“In fact, last night I was on the phone until 1 o’clock in the morning trying to make sure we actually had enough bodies to do the count,” he said.

Miller says he expects to have a good idea of how the turnout will be for him within 4 or 5 days, though it could last longer.

“There are all sorts of things that make this a very quirky race,” he said.