Remember Joe Miller? Bearded guy, said funny things about the Constitution, somehow managed to become the Republican nominee for the United States Senate from Alaska? And then he lost by over 10,000 votes to someone running as a write-in who had to hand out Livestrong-esque rubber bracelets to make sure everyone remembered out to spell her name?
Yeah, it seems like ages ago to me too.
Today, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded its review of the election, turning aside Miller's remaining challenge and unanimously holding that there was no reason for the result not to be certified in Lisa Murkowski's favor.
Why? Because voter intent is paramount, and quibbling over handwriting and spelling is not how we honor each citizen's right to participate in the process:
Joe Miller seeks an interpretation of election statute AS 15.15.360 that would disqualify any write-in votes that misspell the candidate’s name. We do not interpret the statute to require perfection in the manner that the candidate’s name is written on the ballot. Our prior decisions clearly hold that a voter’s intention is paramount. In light of our strong and consistently applied policy of construing statutes in order to effectuate voter intent, we hold that abbreviations, misspellings, or other minor variations in the form of the name of a candidate will be disregarded in determining the validity of the ballot, so long as the intention of the voter can be ascertained.....
As we have recognized, “a true democracy must seek to make each citizen’s vote as meaningful as every other vote to ensure the equality of all people under the law.” In order to ensure that each citizen’s vote is as meaningful as every other vote, we must interpret the election statute to preserve a voter’s clear choice rather than to disenfranchise that voter. The State characterizes the standard urged by Miller as the “perfection standard,” and we agree that such a standard would tend to disenfranchise many Alaskans on the basis of “technical errors.”
Alaskan voters arrive at their polling places with a vast array of backgrounds and capabilities. Some Alaskans were not raised with English as their first language. Some Alaskans who speak English do not write it as well. Some Alaskans have physical or learning disabilities that hinder their ability to write clearly or spell correctly. Yet none of these issues should take away a voter’s right to decide which candidate to elect to govern.
The Court further found that the manual recount method did not violate the Equal Protection Clause and waved away Miller's claims of voter fraud as being "pure speculation [in search of] a fishing expedition." At the same time, the Court also denied Murkowski's efforts to have counted ballots which wrote in her name but without a filled-in oval next to it.
Miller now has 48 hours to raise any remaining constitutional issues in federal court but his campaign is, as the article puts it, "on life support" right now.
In the meantime, Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican Senator to vote for DADT repeal, for cloture on the DREAM Act and for the START Treaty, for which I can only say (and may never be able to say again) thank you, Sarah Palin. You have no idea what you've unleashed.