U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski is considering whether to be a write-in candidate for re-election in November. See this story. Contrary to other published reports, this article correctly notes that voters need not spell “Murkowski” perfectly. Alaska, and almost all other states, use the “voter intent” standard to determine whether a write-in should count.
Murkowski would also have an advantage over write-in candidates in most other states, because all of Alaska’s vote-counting equipment is uniform across the state. Any serious write-in candidate for statewide office always needs to advertise, to explain to voters how to cast a write-in vote, but that job is much simpler when the ballot looks the same everywhere in that state.
The largest write-in vote cast for a U.S. Senate general election in Alaska was in 1968, when incumbent U.S. Senator Ernest Gruening lost the Democratic primary but carried on as a write-in in the November election. The vote in that election was: Mike Gravel, Democratic nominee, 36,527; Elmer Rasmuson, Republican nominee, 30,286; Gruening, write-in, 14,118 (17.4%). Alaskans also cast substantial numbers of write-in votes in November 1998 in the gubernatorial race. The vote in that election was: Tony Knowles, Democrat, 112,879; John Lindauer, Republican, 39,331; Ray Metcalfe, Republican Moderate Party, 13,540; Erica Jacobsson, Green, 6,618; Sylvia Sullivan, Alaskan Independence, 4,238; and 43,571 scattered write-ins, most for Robin Taylor.