28 October 2010

Write-in and Stay A While in Alaska

Within hours of Alaska Superior Court decision which enforces current law about respecting the non partisan zone around polling places, the Alaska Supreme Court stayed a lower court ruling and allowed voters at early voting polling places to see the lists if they say they need help and want to be shown a list of write-in candidates.  The Supreme Court did set some parameters in that the party of the write-in must not be disclosed and that the ballots from those seeing this list of write-in candidates must be segregated pending any appeals.

This Stay from the Alaska Supreme Court has the potential of helping Murkowski at the ballot box, in the court of public opinion and in the litigation afterwards.  The special help for write-in candidates continues throughout early voting, albeit that the ballots will be segregated.  

The Murkowski campaign can play the high road and say that they want to help people exercise their franchise.  If the Alaska Supreme Court rules against the procedure in the end, they will raise the specter of voter disenfranchisement.  If the general election results are close, Murkowski can follow the path that some Democrat candidates use, win through litigation.  A sitting senior Senator can command significant funds to litigate a challenge to the results.  Murkowski and the so called Alaska mafia certainly have vested interests and have marshaled significant resources (namely Alaskans Standing Together) to help "their" candidate.  

Strange things can happen during protracted recount fights.  In 2004, Republican Dino Rossi beat Democrat Christine Gregoire for Washington State Governor's race by 261 votes out of 2.8 million votes cast.  There was an automatic recount due to the close race which Rossi led by 42 votes.  During a third hand recount, more votes were found in King County (Seattle) and Gregoire lead by 126 votes.  An amazing swing of over 400 votes!  Republicans attempted a lawsuit but he judge hearing the lawsuit ruled that the Party did not provide enough evidence that the disputed votes were ineligible, or for whom they were cast, to enable the court to overturn the election.  There was no appeal to the Washington Supreme Court and Gregoire was declared Governor.

Then there is the example of Minnesota Senate race in 2008.  There were preliminary reports on election night that Republican Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) led by over 700 votes over Democrat Al Franken but the certified election results had Coleman leading by 218 votes.  Since the margin was less than 0.5%, there was an automatic recount.  Democrats invested serious resources in litigating the recount since disputed votes could be challenged or championed.  After this recount, Franken led by 225 votes.  Another shocking swing of 443 votes.  Coleman filed an election contest that went before a three judge panel, which allowed 318 of 387 disputed ballots counted, which increased Franken's lead to 312 votes. After nearly seven months of recounts and litigation, Senator Franken was installed. 

Hugh Hewitt wrote a book that says it all:  If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat.  Hewitt wrote that polemic tome with Democrats in mind.  But it seems apt for the Elites in office protecting their perceived entitlements.  I think that a quick reading of John Fund's Stealing Elections will be quite helpful in sorting out the Alaska aftermath.  

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