Murkowski finally makes Senate write-in bid official

Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2010

JUNEAU - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made her write-in candidacy official on Wednesday, filing papers with the state to be eligible for next month's election.

The filing in Anchorage came amid continued uncertainty over what will count as a valid vote for Alaska's senior senator. It remained unclear, for example, whether election officials will count a ballot in her favor if her name is misspelled and how much discretion will be used in determining voter intent.

Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees Alaska elections, has said his reading of the law is that voters must mark the ballot oval and either write in Murkowski's last name or the name as it appears on her declaration to run - in this case, Lisa Murkowski.

He was not immediately available for comment Wednesday, but his spokeswoman, Renee Limoge, said officials planned to "stick to the letter of the law."

She said election officials have asked the attorney general's office if it has any additional guidance to offer.

Murkowski, who mounted the write-in campaign last month following her loss in the GOP primary to Joe Miller, said the law also allows for election officials to count a ballot if voter intent is "discernible."

But to avoid any challenge - and a tight race would almost ensure those - she said her campaign is urging supporters to fill in the oval and write in "Lisa Murkowski."

History stands against her pulling off a win - the last U.S. Senate candidate to be successful going this route was Strom Thurmond in 1954 - and she's focused much of her effort on educating voters about the write-in process and correct spelling of her name.

One of her ads features a girl spelling "Murkowski" in a spelling bee. Campaign news releases show a blackened oval with "Lisa Murkowski" scrawled next to it.

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