Miller protests Juneau vote-count location

Posted: Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Republican candidate Joe Miller is accusing the state Elections Division of moving the write-in ballot count beginning Wednesday from Anchorage to Juneau.

Ben Margot / The Associated Press
Ben Margot / The Associated Press

State elections officials say the count has always been planned for Juneau.

Miller's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, sent the state Division of Elections a letter calling the Juneau location "inconvenient," and suggesting that the write-in count instead be done in Anchorage. Miller's campaign provided a copy of that letter to the Empire.

Most of the observers they want to use are from Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley or Fairbanks, he said.

"By removing the ballot count from Anchorage to Juneau, the state is adding tens of thousands of dollars in costs to the campaign in travel and lodging," the attorney wrote.

Van Flein became well known for representing Sarah Palin during the Troopergate investigation and on other issues.

Elections Director Gail Fenumiai denied the location had been moved.

"It was never changed, it was always going to be in Juneau," she said.

Her office did not consider moving the write-in count after receiving the Miller campaign's letter last week, she said.

"I'm not sure why the state would do that if the ballots are already here in a secure facility, where they have been since election night. This is where the ballots come following every election," she said.

"This is onerous and essentially chills and infringes the Miller campaign's right to meaningfully observe the ballot count," Van Flein stated in the letter.

Miller told CNN's Joe Johns: "Things have been kind of stacked against us. We're trying to make sure the process - the rule of law - is complied with, that we get a fair shake at the level of the Division of Elections and that we have people on the ground to watch the counting of the ballots."

He said that the National Republican Senatorial Committee and SarahPAC, Palin's political action committee, had assisted with the cost of the count.

Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto told the Empire on Monday the campaign's concerns have not changed.

Fenumiai said the count will begin Wednesday with 15 teams counting ballots at the same time. Each campaign is allowed to have one observer per count team, she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@

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