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August 27, 2010

Alaska Senate Update: More Than 20,000 Ballots Left To Process

Okay, don't freak out just yet. Not all of them are Republican votes and not all of them will be allowed to be counted but it's a fair number of votes. Here's the breakdown...

Miller is currently leading Murkowski by 1,668 votes.

Elections officials on Thursday evening released the first detailed breakdown of the remaining ballots.

The state has received back 11,266 absentee ballots so far out of over 16,000 requested. The ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday's election but can come in as much as 15 days afterward.

There are also 658 early votes not yet counted and 8,972 questioned ballots. A ballot can be "questioned" for several reasons. Often the reason is that the voter cast the ballot in a precinct other than where they live.

... The Division of Elections plans to count all the absentee ballots on Aug. 31 that it has received by then. Some of the questioned ballots will be disqualified; for example if it turns out the voter really wasn't registered in Alaska. Those that are valid will likely be counted on Sept. 3. Elections officials said they'll do a final count of absentees and any other remaining ballots on Sept. 8.

The number of remaining ballots changes daily as more absentees come in and there's no way to know how many will be disqualified. But if all the current number of 20,896 remaining ballots were counted and three-fourths of them voted in the Republican Senate primary, Murkowski would need the vote on roughly 55 percent to win.

Obviously the nearly 9,000 or so challenged ballots are a BFD as Joe Biden would say because they were not factored in to earlier numbers. And no, this isn't a dirty trick designed to screw Miller, it's a normal part of every election. Though to my untrained eye almost 9,00 votes seems high. The thing to remember though is that they aren't all Republican votes either. That's the total from all races. Given that Republican turnout was significantly heavier than the Democrats, it's likely the uncounted questioned votes will reflect that fact. A lot of them also won't be allowed to be counted as well.

Still, Murkowski is facing a very steep climb.

Meanwhile, the Miller campaign is calling on the National Republican Senatorial Committee to stay out of the proceedings.

Joe Miller, candidate for United States Senate, believes the National Republican Senatorial Committee's proper place during the Republican Primary Election in Alaska is on the sidelines. The purpose of the organization is "electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate." It is not to pick favorites amongst those running, nor is it to send lawyers to try to manipulate the outcome. Miller said, "You have to be concerned anytime somebody lawyers up and tries to pull an Al Franken, if you will. We are very aware that there may be some attempt here to skew the results. I hope that is not the case. Alaskans won't stand for any post-election foul play; the accurate vote of the people must stand. Miller also pointed out that Lisa Murkowski has not publicly ruled out a third party run. It is inappropriate for the NRSC to spend money on a candidate who may not even be the Republican nominee and in fact may change parties to run against the Party's choice, said Miller.

I know a lot of people agree with Miller and I get why he would want them to stay out but it seems pretty clear to me that the NRSC is within bounds to help Murkowski here.

The NRSC isn't a free floating, independent body, it's created and run by the Republican members of the Senate (which includes Murkowski, at the moment). It's Republican Senators who raise the money for it. If the rule suddenly became Republican Senators couldn't call on the resources they raised when they need them the most or that they could be used against them, the Committee would disappear in about an hour.

I have no problem with the NRSC helping incumbent members over challengers, the problem for me begins when they interfere in open primaries (like Florida).

The important thing is that if (fingers crossed) Miller wins, the NRSC supports him.



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posted by DrewM. at 11:00 AM

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