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December 11, 2010

Alaska Senate Update: Judge Rules Against Miller

To recap: Joe Miller got an injunction from a federal court preventing the state Division of Elections from certifying Murkowski the winner of the election, but the federal court held that he would have to go to state court to resolve the questions about state law.

Yesterday evening, the state court judge ruled that Miller's spelling and fraud challenges are without merit.

Judge William Carey, in a ruling issued Friday, found that Mr. Miller had failed to demonstrate his claims that the results of the midterm elections in November were tainted by misconduct or fraud on the part of election officials. The judge also concluded that the outcome would have been the same even if the Republican candidate's charges had been true.

The state judge's decision is here (PDF). We've been over the exact-spelling rule challenge a couple times here at the HQ, so I'm not going to dig into that too deep. The judge's reasoning is not that great, especially when he's purporting to interpret the text of the statute, but he ultimately did what I expected which was apply the Alaska Supreme Court's "voter intent" rule.

The thing that interested me most about this lawsuit were Miller's late-pleaded fraud claims. Here's what the judge said about that:

Nowhere does Miller provide facts showing a genuine issue of fraud or election official misfeasance. Instead, the majority of the problematic statements included in the affidavits are inadmissible hearsay, speculation, and occasional complaints of sarcasm expressed by DOE workers. Nothing rises to the level showing genuine material facts of fraud.

The judge seemed troubled that Miller apparently sat on these claims from November 17 through December 2 without trying to pursue them. In an ordinary lawsuit, two weeks is an extraordinarily short time to expect a party to take firm action. Miller had a couple things cutting against him: he filed the lawsuits, so the court will expect him to present allegations of genuine claims, and, as we've seen over and over election lawsuits are different.

The Division of Elections moved immediately to have the federal injunction dropped. The federal judge gave Miller until Monday to figure out what he wants to do. He could appeal in the Alaska courts and, ultimately, if he doesn't like what he gets there, take his lawsuit back to the federal courts on his constitutional claims.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:47 AM

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