- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG
After a week of hand-counting paper write-in ballots in Alaska's three-way U.S. Senate race between incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (who ran as an independent write-in candidate), Republican candidate Joe Miller and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, the Associate Press called the race this afternoon for Murkowski.
Trailing by some 10,000 votes behind Murkowski, however, and with several lawsuits concerning the tabulation of ballots still pending, Miller is suggesting it's likely that his campaign will call for a "hand count" of all of the ballots cast in the race, not just those in contention during the counting of write-in ballots over the last week.
Given Alaska's years-long record of often-inexplicable election results, going back at least as far as the 2004 Presidential Election (and the first election as Senator for Murkowski who had previously been named by her father to replace him in the U.S. Senate when he became Governor in 2002); the repeated failure and insecurity of the state's Diebold election system; and the AK Division of Elections' truly remarkable history of blocking citizen oversight of election results --- much of which has been documented at The BRAD BLOG since late 2005 --- a thorough reconciliation of results by the Miller team would be both appropriate and helpful for all future elections in the state (and even for other states, where similar nearly-impossible-to-oversee optical-scan ballot systems are similarly used.)
We have no particular dog in this race, as our coverage of issues of Election Integrity is, as always, non-partisan. Our only concern is for the voters, that they get to vote if they wish, that their votes are counted accurately if they do, and that the counts are performed transparently so that all citizens can know that the results are, indeed, accurate.
To that end, though we haven't consulted directly with any of the campaigns in the Alaska race, we have been following the tabulation closely since Election Day two weeks ago, and have been speaking with a number of sources in the state who have, we're told, been sharing various thoughts we've offered with both the McAdams and Miller campaigns. The advise we've offered --- as we would to anyone who asked, including Murkowski's campaign --- appears to have been taken to heart by the Miller team, at least if one of their lawsuits, and a number of their public statements given over the last week are any indication.
As mentioned, Alaska's history of election results that seem to defy mathematical explanation, along with (understating the problem here) less than transparent processes and a failure to make recommended changes to their election system and procedures, leads to a case where a full, manual, reconciliation of all ballots cast and counted --- as called for by the Miller camp, or any other --- would provide a valuable service to the state and all of its voters...