Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
As vote-counting ended Monday, Lisa Murkowski is a little more than 1,000 votes ahead in her write-in campaign to keep her seat in the U.S. Senate.
That total – 91,517 votes – includes ballots that have been credited to her, but challenged by observers for Republican nominee Joe Miller. Without those challenged ballots, Murkowski still falls short of Miller as the Division heads into its final days of counting with about 10,000 more ballots remaining. Murkowski is still getting 98 percent of the write-ins as they are counted.
For the past six days, Lisa Murkowski has been getting 90 percent of those write-in votes unchallenged by Miller observers. If the trend continues, Murkowski will be solidly on top with tomorrow’s totals. But the number and status of those challenged ballots is at the center of the issue.
And either side is ready to claim victory or admit defeat – both saying they’ll wait for the final numbers to come in.
Miller’s spokesman Randy DeSoto says he still feels good about the results. He’s looking at Murkowski’s total votes without those that have been challenged by Miller observers.
Murkowski’s campaign staff is not giving the challenged ballots any serious consideration, however. Campaign Manager Kevin Sweeney says the Division of Elections has determined that those challenged ballots should belong to Murkowski. And he’s counting them, too.
When the votes are all counted, DeSoto says a narrow vote margin will result in Miller asking the courts to make the determination. Sweeney says Murkowski’s legal team is confident that Miller will have no success there.
The counting will resume Tuesday at mid-day. The election is on track to be certified by Nov. 29 – at which point any further legal action could begin.
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