My old pal Mark the Shark — a lawyer, a Great White — once worked on a recount case. It’s pretty simple, he explained; basically, you recount the easy ones (submitted by machine) and then fight over the absentees one by one. It’s tedious, but it’s like moving a pile of rocks from one place to another. Keep at it, and it’ll get done.
I’m hoping, however, that the Alaska vote-counting takes a good long while. And it likely will, what with ballots arriving via snowshoe-wearing carrier pigeons from above the Brooks Range and all, and the little problem of Joe Miller and his own tea party sharks. Here’s a post from the Anchorage Daily News’ Alaska Politics blog. Scroll down to the bottom, where they’ve posted photographs of a few of the write-in ballots already being challenged by Miller’s sharks. They clearly say “Lisa Murkowski,” every one of them correctly spelled. The only possible problem I could see is perhaps a certain roundness to the lettering that makes a few letters rub up against one another. Also, Miller has imported one Floyd Brown to help him out, Brown being the warlock who conjured the Willie Horton ad for George Bush. Sayeth Brown:
“The stories of manipulation are just almost mind boggling,” Brown said at a press conference called this afternoon by the Miller campaign.
The only evidence that the Miller campaign would provide was an affidavit from a poll watcher in Fairbanks, Rocky MacDonald, who complained that the ballot box at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds “was unsecured in that the electoral judges had access to the inside of the ballot box with a key.”
“The electoral judges opened the ballot box several times to clear jammed ballots and rearrange by hand the ballots in the box to make space for new ballots,” MacDonald wrote.
Mind-boggling, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The entire process will be tied up in the courts for a good long time, I’m sure. Slate has a pretty good outline of Miller’s arguments. Irony alert: This tea partyin’, states-rightsin’ renegade is relying pretty heavily on federal precedent, particularly Bush v. Gore:
Miller wants election officials to count only those ballots for Murkowski in which the oval is properly filled in and her name is properly spelled. How strong are his arguments? Whether the statute requires proper spelling is a difficult question of statutory interpretation. The reason that Alaska election officials said it did not, and instead adopted the looser standard of “voter intent,” which allows for misspellings, is the Alaska Supreme Court’s long-standing use of a rule of interpretation which reads ambiguous statutes in favor of the voters. (I’ve dubbed this rule the Democracy Canon.) In this case, throwing out minor misspellings would disenfranchise voters for a technicality. I’ve traced use of the voter intent standard in state courts back to 1885, and Alaska has a particularly strong version of it. The state’s courts say that election statutes must be read in favor of allowing votes to be counted unless the legislature has made it unmistakably clear not to read a law this way.
Yes, it’s clear Alaska wouldn’t want a man’s vote negated because he lacks letterin’ skills. But we’ll see what we can do.
So, anything else hopping this morning? Not much. We have pea-soup fog out there, and I’m headed out in a bit, driving closer to the lake. I’m hoping to hear some foghorns coming from the water. When conditions are right you can hear them all the way up to my unfashionable neighborhood, but they’re loud enough further east to awaken light sleepers. We’ll see.
Short shrift, I know, but I still feel like crap. So here’s something:
Not to keep coming back to Slate, but, well, Jack Shafer likes the Wall Street Journal’s series on internet privacy as much as I do:
And you thought the Web was “free.” You’re paying with your privacy.
If you don’t have the time, or the subscription, to wade through the WSJ series, he provides a nice summation.
A poem for fall, via Sweet Juniper.
And now I have to run. Have a great weekend, all.