The Endless Election: Updates on Alaska and Minnesota
The rest of the country has settled down and moved on, but for Alaska and Minnesota, two very key races are still up in the air — the Alaska senate race, and the Minnesota governor’s race. And in both cases, the candidate who is running behind is declaring that the system is tainted.
In Minnesota, where we’ve learned a lot about how to do a recount, the MNGOP is trying to raise a specter of voter fraud that they hope could either undo, delegitimize, or at least put off the seating of the likely winner, Democrat Mark Dayton, long enough to keep the current Republican governor in power once the new Republican legislature is in session. In their two pronged attack they are now asking for citizens to write in with their experiences of “suspicious behavior” at polling places, including “same day voter registration,” which is ironic since same day registration is a legal and highly regarded part of Minnesota voter law.
But the GOP isn’t the only one pushing accusations. MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton held a scathing press conference where he claimed that the newly re-elected Secretary of State should not be allowed to handle the process because he was once endorsed and supported by ACORN. This ACORN accusation, one that was leveled against Mark Ritchie both during his 2006 campaign and again during the 2008 senate recount, was picked up and fueled by a local Fox News anchor who literally tried to badger Ritchie in an interview that most of the Minnesota media is declaring to have “totally crossed the line” of professionalism.
But declaring that the people in charge of making sure vote counts are accurate are biased against your trailing candidate isn’t just a Minnesota thing. Joe Miller’s team in Alaska is trying the same ploy with the Alaskan Lieutenant governor. According to the Alaskan Dispatch:
The website Politicsdaily.com is reporting that Miller, in a conference call with bloggers Thursday morning, is imputing the loyalties of the state’s top elections official. It quotes Miller:
“There are a number of fights that are going to have to be undertaken, in part, due to the fact that the division of elections (is) headed up by the lieutenant governor.
The lieutenant governor is effectively the same [as] what you might see in other states as the secretary of state. His statements are policy. He was appointed by Murkowski … has connections to the Murkowski family. In fact, when he, last summer, spoke at the time Sean Parnell was sworn in as governor, spent five or ten minutes praising the Murkowski Family. It was really kind of a curious thing given the lack of popularity at the time of Frank Murkowski.
But in any event, it appears that his bias is playing out in the decisions that he’s making, especially those that are directly contrary to the law.”
At issue is whether any write-in votes cast for Joe Miller would officially count as Miller votes. The Lt. Governor said no, but Alaskan election officials have overridden that decision.
The overseer of Alaska elections now says write-in ballots cast for “Joe Miller” will go toward GOP nominee Joe Miller’s tally, so long as they’re cast properly.
It’s a change from what Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell said Tuesday night when asked that question.
He said then that write-in votes for Miller wouldn’t count because Joe Miller isn’t a qualified write-in candidate.
The rule could become a key part of the legal battle, as it adds yet another wrinkle into voter intent over misspelled ballots (What if the write in was for Miller, but with a different first name? How many of the over 100 write in names are close to Joe Miller?).
This could be a long and contentious battle, and Sen. Murkowski has added Republican lawyer Ben Guinsberg to her team, a serious coup for the candidate, and also a sign that Minnesota Republican governor candidate Tom Emmer is not expected to win his recount — Guinsberg was a key part of the 2008 recount team for Sen. Norm Coleman.