Alaska News Nightly: November 12, 2010

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State Challenges Miller’s Write-In Suit
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The thicket of litigation surrounding this year’s write in campaign just got a little thicker.    This week, federal judge John Sedwick removed himself from a case filed by Republican candidate Joe Miller challenging how write-in ballots are counted. Now the state is challenging that suit, saying Miller can’t file against the write in count in a federal court.

Only 828 Ballots Rejected in Write-In Count So Far
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The latest results from the Division of Elections this afternoon show Lisa Murkowski is now getting – without any challenges –  more than 90 percent of the write-in votes cast last week in her bid to keep her seat in the U.S. Senate.

Observers for Republican nominee Joe Miller have challenged another 9 percent of the votes, but most of those have been turned down by state Elections officials.

Those 4,300 challenged ballots could end up being recounted in court if Miller decides to contest the results.  At issue is whether Murkowski’s name is perfectly written, spelled correctly and legible.  So far, after nearly three days of counting, only 828 ballots have been rejected for being improper.

Miller Advisor Suggests Voter Fraud, Election Irregularities Present
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Miller volunteer advisor Floyd Brown just held another press conference at the write-in count site, where he made more suggestions of voter fraud and election irregularities. Thursday, Brown suggested possible voter fraud and intimidation in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race. However, he offered little in the way of evidence, giving one specific instance of possible voting irregularity: A sworn affidavit from a Republican poll watcher in Fairbanks.

Rocky MacDonald complained of an unsecure ballot box at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds on Election Day. He also claimed the voting machine jammed several times and its counter malfunctioned for about an hour and a half.

Brown presented three more sworn affidavits alleging impropriety on Election Day and at the count site, where Joe Miller observers are now saying some ballots cast for Lisa Murkowski appear to be written in the same handwriting. Brown also continued to suggest that the number of write-in votes cast on Election Day don’t match the number being counted in the room.

Murkowski Spokesman Kevin Sweeney said it’s an ongoing process.

Floyd did not provide reporters with copies of the affidavits, but Miller Spokesman Randy DeSoto said they’d be available in a press release later.

Miller’s campaign is suing the state, seeking access to election registers from more than 30 Alaska precincts to ensure there was no voter fraud or irregularities in those areas.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, says the campaign wants to count and inspect signatures “to ensure there was no possible fraud, mistake, irregularity or inconsistencies.”

North Slope Borough, Shell Oil Agreement May Be First Ever Collaborative Attempt
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The recent announcement that the North Slope Borough had signed an agreement with Shell to conduct multi-year science studies in the Arctic may be the first ever attempt at such a collaboration. Borough Mayor Edward Itta says the objectives are to get solid baseline science collected on the largely unstudied Arctic waters off Barrow’s coast. Itta says the agreement creates a steering committee that will guide the direction of what should be studied.  Itta will appoint a steering committee member from each of the North Slope Borough villages: Point Lay, Point Hope, Wainwright, Nuiqsuit, Barrow and the Barter Island community of Kaktovik. Itta will also select four independent scientists. Shell will also have appointees. He says the announcement by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management head Michael Bromwich that a decision would be coming ‘soon’ on arctic development, concerns him.

Report Looks at Challenges of Arctic Oil Spills
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
The Pew Environment Group has released a large report that takes a detailed look at the challenges of preventing and containing oil spills in the Arctic Ocean.    KDLG’s Mike Mason looked it over and has the story.

Bethel Will Receive Tide Station
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
There’s a town in the south of Peru called Matarani and at first glance it might not appear to have lot in common with Bethel, or the Kuskokwim River.

But both are cities have regional ports. And both are part of large and diverse watersheds, the Kuskokwim for Bethel, the Amazon for Matarani.  And, through years of trial and error, Kuskokwim mariners have come to use the tidal information from Matarani to estimate when the tides will be coming and going in Bethel.

But now, Bethel will get its own tide station KYUK’s Shane Iverson has more.

NANA Shareholders Receiving Dividends Soon
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Nana Regional Corporation shareholders will be receiving their annual dividend from business earnings over the next several days. NANA CFO Kevin Thomas says most of the original shareholders have 200 shares because all of the Nana region village corporations with the exception of Kotzebue village corporation have combined with the main regional corporation so original shareholders have more shares.

Thomas says the dividend amount is $14 per share.

Thomas says this year’s amount is a dollar per share higher than last year.

In 1991 Nana elected to enroll children, what are sometimes called ‘after borns’, descendents who were born after Dec. 17, 1971 and were left off the original rolls. Those children have on average 100 shares and will also receive dividend payments.

Thomas cautions that although it’s too early to project what the coming year will turn out to be financially for the corporation, so far, 2011 is shaping up well.

Thomas is referring to the Red Dog zinc mine in northwest Alaska, 90 miles north of Kotzebue. The mine is owned by Nana. The corporation also has other businesses that Thomas says are doing well. He says the 12,000 shareholders will start seeing their dividend checks soon. Electronic distributions started last night and paper checks are going in the mail, starting today.

Nana pays their dividend on an annual basis.

Kodiak Rocket Launch Will Produce Information for Dozens of Experiments
Jacob Resneck, KMXT – Kodiak
Next week’s rocket launch at the Kodiak Launch Complex on Narrow Cape will be packed with seven payloads for more than a dozen different experiments. NASA scientists and military project managers held a briefing Tuesday morning in advance of the Nov. 19 liftoff.