Home General U.S. District Court in Alaska Tells Joe Miller to File Case on Vote-Counting in State Court; Tells State Not to Certify Election Until State Court Rules
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U.S. District Court in Alaska Tells Joe Miller to File Case on Vote-Counting in State Court; Tells State Not to Certify Election Until State Court Rules

Published on November 19, 2010, by in General.

On November 19, a U.S. District Court in Alaska issued a ruling in Joe Miller’s lawsuit against the state of Alaska over vote-counting.  The U.S. District Court said the case belongs in state court, not federal court.  The judge told the Alaska Division of Elections not to certify Lisa Murkowski’s win in the U.S. Semate race until after the state court has received the case.  However, the federal judge also said that if Miller does not file in state court by November 22, the Elections Division is then free to certify the results.  See this story.  Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.  Here is the federal court order.  The case is Miller v Campbell, 3:10-cv-0252.

9 Responses

  1. Brad M.

    OK, maybe I was wrong on dissing Miller not holding a gracious concession speech. Maybe he’s got skin in the game although I suspect this will come to nothing.

    Not sure how I feel on this one. A bit of nepotism on Murkowski’s part in being where she is, albeit she is moderate and bipartisan. Or wishing Miller to win to give the Repub party a lot of fun for six years.

    I am going to have to defer to Murkowski on this one.

  2. Richard

    The Alaska Supreme Court already ruled late last month that a Division of Elections regulation against showing the list of write-in candidates to voters who ask to see it, violates the election code itself. And the Alaska Supreme Court has said several times in the past that when there is a dispute about counting votes, voter intent is what matters. So the odds of Joe Miller winning this new lawsuit in the Alaska Supreme Court are not good.

  3. Brad M.

    Good for Alaska and their fair, common sensical approach to determining election issues.

  4. Demo Rep

    The 17th Amdt still appears to be in the FEDERAL constitution with even cases arising under such constitution (Art. III, Sec. 2) to be in Art. III, Sec. 1 FEDERAL courts.

    The Donkey judges and the Fat Lady waiting to sing await in the gerrymander Senate.

    Art. I, Sec. 5 – as mentioned in earlier postings.

    One more MESS for the party hack SCOTUS folks to clean up — likely the same day that some final stuff happens in AK.

  5. Jim Riley

    #2, It’s the other way around. The Alaska code forbids display of the names of write-in candidates within the polling place and surrounding area.

    The Division of Elections decided to distribute a list of the names of write-in candidates. It was a new election procedure because the DOE had to get expedited approval from the USDOJ under Section 5 of the VRA. They also bypassed the procedures for a state agency creating new election regulations. And Mark Brown might argue that for a congressional election, that the Division of Elections can’t bypass the legislature in regulating the manner in which the election is conducted.

    The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the lists were legal under terms of the code that require election judges to provide assistance to voters. They did restrict the public display of the list, and restricted its use to when a voter requested assistance. They also stripped the party affiliations from the list (in Alaska, write-in candidates file with a party affiliation).

  6. Richard

    #5, as your comment itself says, there is a difference between posting the list of write-in candidates at the polling place, and letting a voter who asks to see the list do so. There has never been any Alaska statute that barred polling place officials from showing the list to a voter who asks for one. There was a regulation and the Alaska Supreme Court properly invalidated it. There is an awesome lack of thinking going on around this controversy. The whole reason we have elections is because we assume that each voter’s brain will be working to choose the best candidate. The more brain-work, the better the collective decision will be.

    Therefore, it is in the interest of society, as well as in the interest of each voter, that each voter’s choice be recorded. Anything that causes a voter to do the brainwork necessary to decide on a candidate, and then wastes that mental work, is hurtful. Elections are for people to express themselves; they are not sporting events conducted for the benefit of the candidates to claim victory by stopping some voters from casting their votes.

  7. Demo Rep

    14th Amdt, Sec. 2 for the indicated offices.

    deny/abridge *right to vote* (1866-1868 thinking)

    NOT updated by the party hack MORONS who enacted the 17th, 19th and 26th Amdts.

  8. Demo Rep

    # 6 Lots of gerrymander rigged districts — with NO thinking by most robot Donkey / Elephant voters.

    *some* thinking by independent voters — a new species of humans ??? — causing the 2006-2008-2010 *wave* elections.

  9. Jim Riley

    #6 The State of Alaska had never distributed such lists before. That was the reason that the Division of Elections had sought preclearance under Section 5 of the VRA. It was a change in procedure.

    Alaska then went ahead and implemented the procedure prior to hearing from the USDOJ. The Alaska Democratic Party first learned of the new procedure when a list was posted at an absentee polling place in the appropriately-named Homer, and after Alaska refused to stop, they filed suit.

    Alaska’s regulation on disseminating information about write-in candidates within the 200-foot limit is totally consistent with Alaska statutes (AS 15.15.170). What the Division of Elections argued was that their new procedure was not inconsistent with the regulation, since the lists would only be used by election officials to help them provide assistance to voters as required by State law.

    The Supreme Court agreed with the Division of Elections – but also ordered two changes in their procedure. First, they ordered removal of political party affiliation, and did so because it violated the Division of Elections regulation. They also ordered that the lists not be posted at polling places, and that the full lists not be shown to voters.

    An oddity of the whole situation is that Alaska permits write-in filing up to 5 days before the election, and the Division of Elections in their filing with the USDOJ had indicated that they would continuously update the lists during the early-voting period. This suggests that they were just making up a new procedure on the fly – it would be interesting to see what communication they had received from any write-in candidates, their campaigns, or their fathers.

    There has also been a lawsuit filed in federal court arguing that VRA preclearance should have been sought for the Supreme Court’s ordered changes, which were different than what the USDOJ had previously not interposed an objection to. In particular, it was noted that in light of the USDOJ’s objection to Kinston, NC holding non-partisan elections, it might want to consider the removal of partisan information from the lists.

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