Absentee Ballot Validation Remains Point of Contention Between Miller Campaign, DOE

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC and Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The Division of Elections says Joe Miller’s campaign did not follow the rules and give the Division the name of a contact person, which is why they weren’t notified Friday that the process to validate absentee ballots had begun.  The Division is responding to claims by Miller that the state agency is manipulating the counting process, and keeping important information from him.

Miller’s campaign put out a press release over the weekend complaining that the Division of Elections hadn’t notified him that it had started validating absentee ballots.

But the Division of Elections Division director Gail Fenumiai says Friday is the first time her office heard from Miller’s group about the ballot review process.

Campaigns are required by state law to put forth the name of a contact person for election information.  Miller’s spokesman says they did do that, but the Division of Elections Fenumiai disagrees.

The Division also says there’s a difference between counting absentee ballots, which starts Tuesday, and verifying absentee voter eligibility, which is the process that started late last week. So Miller’s complaint that the counting was unexpectedly moved up is incorrect, according to officials.

Miller has also raised concerns about the state’s decision to move up by 10 days the process to read write-in ballots.  It starts Wednesday. Both his campaign and that of Senator Lisa Murkowski, the other top competitor in the Senate race, are mobilizing volunteers and lawyers to watch the hand-counting.  Miller says the quickened timeline gives him less time to prepare, and the fact that it’s being done in Juneau will make it tough for him to get teams in place.

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