November 10, 2010

How misspelled can a write-in vote for Murkowski be before it shouldn't be counted at all?

Joe Miller is arguing for 100% correct spelling.
Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees Alaska elections, has indicated that he will accept minor misspellings of Murkowski's name as long as the "voter intent" is clear.
Intent of the voter. Ah! That brings back delightful memories of the Bush v. Gore recount.

Miller is overdoing it. Clearly, they've got to count stuff like "Murakowski" and "Murkowsky" and "Murcowski" and even "Mercowsky." But where's the line? What about "Merssky"? Or "Murk."? What about "Lisa"? That's dimpled chad territory, no?

ADDED: A poll:

How strictly would you judge the write-ins?
Miller's right. The spelling must be perfect.
It must be phonetically accurate or only 1 or 2 letters off.
If you can tell it was meant as a vote for Murkowski, it should count.

  
pollcode.com free polls

After the break, a second poll:


Now, be honest:
My preference for Miller influenced my choice on the first poll.
My preference for Murkowski influenced my choice on the first poll.
I gave a neutral, principled response to the first poll.
Honestly, I can't vouch for how my mind worked.

  
pollcode.com free polls

221 comments:

1 – 200 of 221   Newer›   Newest»
Bob Ellison said...

This is a murky situation.

TRO said...

It appears that the law says you have to spell it correctly, so that should be the answer to your question.

And believe me, it would be the state's official answer if Miller where the write-in candidate.

Original Mike said...

Will they accept "Princess"?

Superdad said...

They should demand 100% accuracy. Murkowski went to court and won the right to have her name, properly spelled, available to voters at the polling places on slips of paper that the voter could take into the booth.

It is not the job of the elections board to decide voter intent for a group of people who were too lazy to look at the piece of paper and copy the letters.

Scott M said...

"Democracy is the worst form of government...yadda, yadda, yadda..."

Scott M said...

Will they accept "Princess"?

lol

AJ Lynch said...

Voter intent? F-ing lawyers have really screwed this country up.

It's 2010, if you can't spell the name of a write-in candidate corectly, your vote should not count.

AJ Lynch said...

Or how how about Princiss?

traditionalguy said...

It's Florida in 2000, deja vu. If the law says A, but the judge says B because the law needs a quick rewrite for his side to win, then there will never be a valid election again.

AllenS said...

How about Mufffffffpppppt?

PatCA said...

Given that there was a concerted campaign to write any of over 100 names, I think they have to judge each name pretty closely. It was legal and it was an effort to defeat her.

Lem said...

So let me get this right..

A Law professor is defending misspellings.. ;)

former law student said...

To reject votes for misspellings shows anti-Polish prejudice. Would a judge toss out an arrest warrant for those misspellings? "Hey, it says Lisa Murawski -- clearly it's not her, your honor."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

How misspelled can a write-in vote for Murkowski be before it shouldn't be counted at all?

As a legal matter, that depends entirely on how many votes she needs.

Or something like that.

ark said...

The law could probably be improved, but the time to improve it was before the election. After the election, the only right thing to do is follow it.

Michael Haz said...

Acceptable write-in votes should be spelled the way Lisa Murkowski spells her name.

Any other spelling is not a vote for a person named Lisa Murkowski.

Only a politician who wants to game the electoral process to her advantage would argue that "Larry Murphy" actually means "Lisa Murkowski".

AllenS said...

Murkowski

7 different letters
2 are the same

So, would getting like 5 letters correct be ok? How about 4?

WV: madcowsky

Just kidding.

former law student said...

I wonder how many times the professor has seen her name spelled as Anne Althouse. Or even Anne Althous.

t-man said...

As Patterico explains, Miller has evidence that misspellings of Lisa M's name may have been intentional as a vote against her.

Miller has another argument that is interesting:

Prior to the election, people commented on radio stations and in the comment sections in blogs and newspaper stories that they would deliberately incorrectly write-in a variation of “Murkowski” as a protest. They did so knowing that Murkowski was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a “spelling bee” campaign, replete with wrist bands, pencils and tattoos, all to educate the voters on proper spelling. Why was this done? Because even Murkowski had read the law and knew that it required proper spelling — “No exceptions.” So protest voters were trying to send a message to the candidate.

AllenS said...

Let's see what the law says. Then apply the law.

WV: mental

I'm not kidding this time!

William said...

If you present yourself as a populist, it is sometimes necessary to listen to the will of the people. It will not make either Miller or Palin look good if they go the legalistic route on this......They should have found a candidate named Murkewski and entered him as a write in candidate. Too late now. Miller lost.

roesch-voltaire said...

Sorry but unless there was a spell checker in the voting booth, holding any generation to letter perfect is not fair.

MadisonMan said...

WV: madcowsky

Big grin from me.

If the law says it has to be spelled perfectly, then that's your answer. Isn't that why she went and asked for the sheets?

Larry J said...

This is absurd. From all I've read, Alaska law says the name must be spelled correctly to count. That should be the end of the matter. Last week, someone in Alaska announced that if any of the write-in votes were for Miller, they wouldn't count even if they were spelled correctly.

Sounds like a "heads I win, tails you lose" situation. They're saying a valid write in vote for Miller won't count but a lawfully invalid write in for Murkowski should?

former law student said...

Regarding the second poll: In a situation with two Republicans running against each other, you know I have no skin in the game.

Gabriel Hanna said...

I agree that the state needs to follow the law as written, and that if the candidates' positions were reversed the incumbent would be making the same argument.

But this is not the way Miller should win. It's just going to cause more trouble later.

We had a similar problem in Washington when Gregoire beat Rossi after the third recount by a few hundred votes in a election where boxes of votes would mysteriously turn up days later. It's not quite fair to Gregoire, but a lot of people saw it as she demanded recounts until she got the result she wanted. There's still a lot of bad feeling about it.

former law student said...

They're saying a valid write in vote for Miller won't count

Miller's name is on the ballot -- did he also run a write-in campaign?

rhhardin said...

She's lucky she's not named Tschebyscheff, for which the possible American spellings are

{Tsch,Tch,Ch,C} eb {y,i} {sch,ch,sh,š} {ë,e,o} {f,ff,v}

according to Hamming.

former law student said...

Sorry but unless there was a spell checker in the voting booth, holding any generation

Doing her genealogy, my wife found that one of her great-grandparents' surnames was misspelled every census -- by a Federal employee no less.

Richard Dolan said...

According to the article, the applicable statute provides: "A vote for a write-in candidate ... shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided."

So the statute requires, at a minimum, that for a write-in vote to be "counted," the "last name" of the candidate "as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy" must be "written in the space provided." That provides an objective standard -- compare what's "written in the space provided" with the "declaration of candidacy." If there's a match (which is not the same thing as a sort-of or mostly match), the vote counts; if not, then it doesn't.

I assume that Alaska law provides that a court will defer to administrative constructions of statutory language so long as they are reasonable. But here the statutory language is clear -- it requires a "match" between two objectively determinable things. An administrative construction that replaces a "match" with a "close enough" standard seems to conflict with the statute, and thus should be rejected.

So I think Miller is probably right. But that doesn't mean he will probably win, either in court or in the election.

Harsh Pencil said...

Althouse and other lawyers out there,

Please answer the following: What does Alaska law say about this? I don't really care what is fair or not. We are, or at least should be, a nation of laws. So what is the law? It certainly looks to me like misspellings don't count, because the name is not what was submitted. Is this or is this not an incorrect reading of the law?

t-man said...

Gabriel--

Ask Gregoire if she would give up the power of the governorship to assuage those bad feelings.

SteveR said...

I believe it was well known ahead of time that to be counted it must be spelled correctly.

If someone "intended" to vote for Lisa Murkowski. then they should have known how to spell it. That was required when they didn't get her enough votes to win the primary.

What is so difficult about something so clear?

MrBuddwing said...

I was perfectly willing to accept obvious intent (how misspelled would "Lisa Murkowski" have to be not to obviously be a vote for Lisa Murkowski?) but I now agree with TRO and others - if the law, as it currently stands, demands accurate spelling, then so be it.

Word verification: subsol.

former law student said...

So, rhh, should Alaska filter out all those mispelings?

Ha, an EE joke. I slay me.

garage mahal said...

She's lucky she's not named Tschebyscheff, for which the possible American spellings are

{Tsch,Tch,Ch,C} eb {y,i} {sch,ch,sh,š} {ë,e,o} {f,ff,v}


LOL. Awesome.

c3 said...

unless there was a spell checker in the voting booth, holding any generation to letter perfect is not fair.

C'mon. Sen. Murkowski surely got an earmark for spell checkers in every voting both. Probably part of some education bill or something.

(PS And it has a word complete function. Funny that when you type in "M" it suggests "Murkowsky". It used to suggest "Stevens" after typing "S" but not anymore.)

former law student said...

What does Alaska law say about this?

There is the ancient common-law doctrine of idem sonantia but it's little discussed these days.

chuckR said...

If the law says the name must be spelled correctly, more fool Leela Mercurochrome - or whatever her name is - for not getting the importance of that fact out to her supporters in advance of election day. Did she not know of this law?
The law may not be 'fair', by rule of law beats rule of the whim of packs of feral lawyers.

Methadras said...

Miller should not compromise in any way.

Shanna said...

They had a piece of paper with her name on it to refer to! Spelling should be correct (although I allowed for 1 to 2 letters off/phonetic in the poll). But no, “lisa” is not specific enough.

TRO said...

"There is the ancient common-law doctrine of idem sonantia but it's little discussed these days."

Does common-law carry over a standing written Alaskan law that says otherwise? Not being a lawyer (thank the Lord), I am sincerely curious.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@rhh:

Tschebyshev is a data retrieval nightmare. Unfortunately there is a lot of stuff with his name on it.

Also difficult: Moamar Khaddafi.

@t-man:

Ask Gregoire if she would give up the power of the governorship to assuage those bad feelings.

I don't have to, she ran again and was reelected, so she clearly didn't think the bad feelings were that important.

I'm not saying that Miller should give up the governorship, and he after all has the law on his side, not that that matters with judges today.

All I'm saying is that when elections are decided by pettifogging applications of rules, it can be a Pyrrhic victory.

It is pretty sleazy of Murkowsky to demand that misspellings of her name count, but that write-in votes for her opponent don't. The law should be followed in both cases, or voter intent should be judged in both cases.

Calypso Facto said...

How has the law been applied to write-ins in the past?

And can Lisa Merkowski sue if a vote for her is counted as a vote for Lisa Murkowski? A printed copy of registered candidates names with their correct spellings was provided at the polling place, so certainly a vote with an alternate spelling of 'Murkowski' could, in fact, be a vote for an unregistered someone else, right?

I think exact spelling is the only defensible standard.

madawaskan said...

I have a very foreign last name it was always used to "single" me out no matter where I went, what country I lived in-and I was always addressed by it or some butchering of it.

It's why I am horrified to call Althouse, Althouse I see it as negative.

Anyways-no one ever spelled my name correctly.

Hey! This one way to keep the divisions!

I think it's going to be at some point a bad move for Miller-from the supposed "grass roots" party to legally fight voter intent.

Now where's the line-for non WASP named persons...well the spellings get pretty damn bad...

Did they preface it with Lisa?

How many other Lisas where there?

I think it was ZERO.

After what I found out about this guy, written in his own hand about how he went in early to work to vote from his fellow employees computers so that they could take the fall for what he was doing and that he lied and lied again about it-well...

And then he used the law to try to block that.

This guy graduated from West Point somehow without learning the important thing.

What he did I'd never tolerate from a high schooler but there he was a full grown adult, graduate of West Point slinking around during lunch hour.

Creepy.

And no one in the "Tea Party Networks" thought their audience had a right to know about it.

The great unreported.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@TRO, fls:

Does common-law carry over a standing written Alaskan law that says otherwise?

If statutes don't take precedence over common law then why do we have legislatures?

Lance said...

But this is not the way Miller should win. It's just going to cause more trouble later.

How is following the law going to cause more trouble? It's rather the opposite: disregarding plain law undercuts Murkowski's legitimacy.

Original Mike said...

Having watched the completely bogus crap that was called the Florida recount, I have to come down on the side of not granting politically motivated poll workers any latitude. The law says spell it right? Then follow the law.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@TRO, fls:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reception_statutes

Over time, as new states were formed from federal territories, these territorial reception statutes became obsolete and were re-enacted as state law. For example, a reception statute enacted by legislation in the state of Washington requires that "[t]he common law, so far as it is not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States, or of the state of Washington nor incompatible with the institutions and condition of society in this state, shall be the rule of decision in all the courts of this state." In this way, the common law was eventually incorporated into the legal systems of every state except Louisiana (which inherited a civil law system from its French colonizers before the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, adopting a code similar to but not directly based on the Napoleonic Code of 1804).

I guess you could argue that if common law trumps statute law then reception statutes are invalid, but if they are invalid then common law isn't the received law.

Dark Eden said...

It should be the second choice, but after all the dirty tricks and shenanigans Princess Murky has pulled I feel no sympathy. She who lives by the dirty political trick dies by the dirty political trick.

Original Mike said...

Not to mention "Murkowski" is not hard to spell. Three syllables. Mur-kow-ski. What's hard about that?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Dark Eden:

She who lives by the dirty political trick dies by the dirty political trick.

It's not a "dirty trick" to run as a write-in after losing a primary. It's dirty to expect to get the legal advantages of a party nomination after losing the primary.

Like it or not, the two-party system gives the two parties huge advantages, but they should only extend to people who followed the rules of the two-party system and actually got nominated by one of them.

AllenS said...

And finally, a third poll

1. Always follow what the law says
2. Don't need no stinkin laws

former law student said...

Common law, i.e. judge-made law, fills in the gaps in our legal system. Ask Lilly Ledbetter -- the statute was supposed to help people in her situation but the Supreme Court read a requirement into it that ended up denying her relief.

The legislature (Congress) then explicitly clarified their intention, but it was too late to help Ledbetter.

Lem said...

OMG.. how people lie in the second poll!

wv - write

former law student said...

Like it or not, the two-party system gives the two parties huge advantages, but they should only extend to people who followed the rules of the two-party system and actually got nominated by one of them.


What is this "two-party system"? The Constitution says nothing about a two party system, nor was there a two-party system at the time of the Framers.

traditionalguy said...

The strange requirement of a correct spelling or a vote not counting was likely inserted to discourage write ins and also put a quick stop to any fights over counting mis-spelled write in ballots. So what changed?

campy said...

I say we ask Obama who he wants to see in the seat, and award that person the victory.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

What is this "two-party system"? The Constitution says nothing about a two party system, nor was there a two-party system at the time of the Framers.

Do you really want to play "Where is that in the Constitution?" Where does it say murder and theft are illegal in the Constitution?

You really are stupid. This is not a game with you, this is HOW YOU ARE. I am finally getting it.

The Constitution, dumbass, does not provide every possible law that governs our society. Additional laws, consistent with the priniciples of the Constitution, may be made at any time by bodies called "legislatures" and "Congress", and in addition may be expounded, informed and interpreted according to "legal precedents" by officials called "judges".

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

The Constitution says nothing about a two party system, nor was there a two-party system at the time of the Framers.

Here you go dumbass, Article I section 4:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.

So a two party system is perfectly legal and Constitutional. Assmonkey.

Almost Ali said...

Welcome to Florida.

Except Muckowski.

former law student said...

Where does it say that legislatures can privilege certain candidates (those that have won a party's nomination) over other candidates that have not? Further, where does it say that legislatures can privilege some candidates (with easy-to-spell names) over other candidates (with hard to spell names)?

Trooper York said...

Gabriel you need to calm down a little pal.

You are going to give yourself a stroke. Seriously.

It's just the internet.

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

1) The law is what the law is. Period. Full stop. If the law requires correct spelling, there is no argument: except by those who think they are above it.

2) The courts ALREADY put their thumb on the scale in Murkowski's favor by allowing the list of write-in candidates. The whole POINT of winning a primary is that your name will appear on the ballot, and that the losers will not. The Alaskan courts essentially said that they don't care what the electoral process is: they will change the rules to suit their whims accordingly.

3) The Alaskan government FURTHER put its thumb on the scale in favor of Murkowski by declaring that write-in votes for Miller will not count. If the standard is "will of the voter," then there is NO justification for not counting Miller write-ins. If it's NOT "will of the voter," then misspellings of Murkowski CANNOT count. They've already said that the "will of the voter" will be ignored if it is for Miller. Therefore, fairness (and the law, incidentally) demands that misspellings do not count either.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Where does it say that legislatures can privilege certain candidates (those that have won a party's nomination) over other candidates that have not?

Keep digging, you're bound to get out of the hole sooner or later if you don't give up.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Here's wikipedia, since you need things pre-digested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_States_Constitution

This clause generally commits to the States the authority to determine the "times, places and manner of holding elections," which includes the preliminary stages of the election process (such as a primary election), while reserving to Congress the authority to preempt State regulations with uniform national rules. Congress has exercised this authority to determine a uniform date for federal elections: the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

Because Congress has not enacted any on-point regulations, States still retain the authority to regulate the dates on which other aspects of the election process are held (registration, primary elections, etc.) and where elections will be held. As for regulating the "manner" of elections, the Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean "matters like notices, registration, supervision of voting, protection of voters, prevention of fraud and corrupt practices, counting of votes, duties of inspectors and canvassers, and making and publication of election returns." The Supreme Court has held that States may not exercise their power to determine the "manner" of holding elections to impose term limits on their congressional delegation.

One of the most significant ways that States regulate the "manner" of elections is their power to draw election districts. Although in theory Congress could draw the district map for each State,[48] it has not exercised this level of oversight. Congress has, however, required the States to conform to certain practices when drawing districts. States are currently required to use a single-member district scheme, whereby the State is divided into as many election districts for Representatives in the House of Representatives as the size of its representation in that body (that is to say, Representatives cannot be elected at-large from the whole State unless the State has only one Representative in the House, nor can districts elect more than 1 Representative).


You go on about common law and precedent, and then in the very same thread to demand to see explicit descriptions in the Constitution for legitimate laws?

Moron.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Trooper York:

It's just the internet.

But somebody's WRONG on it! :)

I'll take a break. fls is refuting himself just fine without my help.

Almost Ali said...

Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell:

Given that Miller is on the ballot, but left unchecked, is a Miller write-in valid?

Jim said...

At this point, between the government gamesmanship and the courts ignoring the law, the Miller campaign has a legitimate gripe that the election was "stolen" no matter what the outcome.

When he entered the race, there was one set of rules which he and everybody else played by. It was only AFTER the primary that they decided to change the rules to disadvantage him as much as possible.

There has been a clear and systematic effort to thwart the will of the Republican primary voters by any means necessary because the powers-that-be didn't like the outcome.

If this isn't proof that the "throw the bums" out applies equally to both parties, then you have no idea what the word "proof" means.

TRO said...

"The strange requirement of a correct spelling or a vote not counting was likely inserted to discourage write ins and also put a quick stop to any fights over counting mis-spelled write in ballots. So what changed?"

An outsider pissed on the insider's Wheaties.

madawaskan said...

Ya cripes I withdrew my last comment just because I didn't want to be responsible for collateral damage...

Jeebus dudes!

former law student said...

First Hanna says

I agree that the state needs to follow the law as written,

and then he says,

If statutes don't take precedence over common law then why do we have legislatures?

So he argues that the exact letter of the statute should prevail.

But then he quotes an article that demonstrates that judges really decide what the states are allowed to do:

As for regulating the "manner" of elections, the Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean "matters like notices, registration, supervision of voting, protection of voters, prevention of fraud and corrupt practices, counting of votes, duties of inspectors and canvassers, and making and publication of election returns." The Supreme Court has held that States may not exercise their power to determine the "manner" of holding elections to impose term limits on their congressional delegation.


So ultimately the Supreme Court could decide if Lissa Mercowsky is Senator or not.

madawaskan said...

Thank Krishna I'm nice like that...

Ann Althouse said...

I agree that the written law governs, and you can read the text in the article:

"A vote for a write-in candidate, other than a write-in vote for governor and lieutenant governor, shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided."

So we're talking about what it means for "the name" to be "written."

edutcher said...

I went with 2 on the first and 3 on the second.

One question that's kind of germane here is the lengths to which the law goes generally to recognize intent. I'm thinking of situations where, "I didn't mean for anybody to get hurt", (or similar defenses) is not considered a valid argument.

Or is this something dictated by the political and philosophical attitudes of the judge (or Justice) in question?

I recall hearing somewhere intent isn't really supposed to count for much.

This is one for the Professor.

PS Hanna, fls has a point. The Constitution is set up in such a way (Electoral College) that a two-party system is the most likely outcome (what I was taught 50 years ago), but nowhere is it mandated.

PPS I was told eons ago that, since we have legislative bodies, there really is no such thing in this country as common law.

Another one for the Professor.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@fls:

Ah, you were pretending to be ignorant and stupid so you could play gotcha--it was a fiendishly clever gambit.

Keep digging, you'll get out sooner or later.

But then he quotes an article that demonstrates that judges really decide what the states are allowed to do:


It demonstrates no such thing. You can't read, but other people can. There's no point in lying about what the article said.

Legislation, judges, common law and the Constitution are all sources of law, as you yourself acknowledge. And those sources of law all agree that the two party system is legal and Consitutional, despite your astonishingly stupid remark, your pathetic post facto justifications of which make you look stupid.

Seriously, dude, you countered with "I meant to do that."

Ann Althouse said...

"as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate"

Based on that, I'd say "Lisa" isn't good enough...

A.Worthing said...

ann, did you at least read the brief?

It points at statutory language that says pretty much, yes, you have to write it exactly.

http://patterico.com/2010/11/10/joe-miller-sues-to-require-exact-spellings-of-murkowskis-name-for-write-in-votes/

That doesn't mean he wins automatically. but you don't seem to be taking his argument seriously.

Shanna said...

Further, where does it say that legislatures can privilege some candidates (with easy-to-spell names) over other candidates (with hard to spell names)?

How is she disadvantaged when voters had a sheet of paper with her name spelled properly as a cheat sheet??? I mean, really. Also, count me with those who don't think Murkowski is all that hard to spell. It's not like she is some random person who came out of nowhere, she is the sitting senator and somebody said she is a legacy as well. So the voters should be at least somewhat familiar with the name.

Original Mike said...

So we're talking about what it means for "the name" to be "written."

Aren't we, rather, talking about what the phrase "as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy" means?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@edutcher:

PS Hanna, fls has a point. The Constitution is set up in such a way (Electoral College) that a two-party system is the most likely outcome (what I was taught 50 years ago), but nowhere is it mandated.


It's not Constitutionally mandated, but that's not what fls was getting at. It's established by the laws of most states (mine is an exception) and is consistent with the Constitution.

The requirement to buy auto insurance isn't in the Constitution, nor is the requirement to have a license to drive--lots of stuff isn't in there. Doesn't mean it's not legal or somehow invalid, as fls would be the first to agree on different subjects. But he made such a big deal of it not being in the Constitution and not intended by the Framers--well, that doesn't matter. We have lots of laws that aren't in the Constitution and weren't intended by the Framers, but laws are laws for a' that.

Original Mike said...

Given that they were handed a sheet of paper with her name on it, I doubt there will be enough mispellings to elect Miller anyways.

bgates said...

how misspelled would "Lisa Murkowski" have to be not to obviously be a vote for Lisa Murkowski?

Joe Murkowski.
Lisa Millerski?
Joel Mileski....

wv 'gumfkul', which the Alaska Board of Elections would count as a vote for the incumbent.

S said...

I'm a little bit sympathetic to those who wrote "Merkowsi" and think it should count, but for election laws even more than laws in general, it is important that the rules be known in advanced (and not changed part-way through) and that the people executing the laws have as little discretion as practical.

If an election is very close and it ends up being determined by an act of randomness, I don't mind that terribly -- if one candidate gets a million votes and another gets a million plus five, either would represent the district pretty much equally well. But if an election official can swing the vote count by hundreds or thousands of votes by the interpretation they bring to the table, that's more of a problem. It's not that the candidate with slightly fewer valid votes is a significantly worse representative than the candidate with slightly more; it's just that the elections judges shouldn't have that power.

Palladian said...

She should have changed her name to X

Beth said...

they would deliberately incorrectly write-in a variation of “Murkowski” as a protest

What a bunch of idiots. They should have just voted for Miller, and elected their candidate. There are a few mad hatters at the tea party.

Rialby said...

It's nonsense. There should never have been a write-in candidate sheet handed out at the polls. That was a political decision made by bureaucrats in Alaska who wanted Murkowski to win.

Revenant said...

Ask Lilly Ledbetter -- the statute was supposed to help people in her situation but the Supreme Court read a requirement into it

It's always a toss-up whether FLS is lying or just ignorant.

bagoh20 said...

Millerowski?

Big Mike said...

At the time I voted, what I was thinking was that one could apply the Soundex algorithm to any name that did not match "Murkowski" letter for letter. Soundex is a well-understood algorithm capable of yielding an objective result.

But then I read the comments and TRO and Superdad right at the top of the thread reminded me that the law is what it is. The downside risk of "extending" the law is so dangerous that it should not be contemplated for a moment.

Much further along in the thread Gabriel Hanna (Hana? Henna? Xhena?) makes another valid point. After all, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that one cannot fly directly over the Presidential Mansion because flying machines had not yet been invented.

But I wouldn't charter a Cessna and intrude in the White House restricted air space to test some sort of Consitutional theory if I was you.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

They need to personally contact the voter of each and EVERY write in ballot and ask them what their intention was. That is the ONLY way to know.

Only partly kidding.

FormerTucsonan said...

Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees Alaska elections, has indicated that he will accept minor misspellings of Murkowski's name as long as the "voter intent" is clear.

Bullshit! If people really want to vote for Murkowski the least they can do is learn how to spell her name.

It's not like she went on the ballot 20 mins. before the election or her family moved to Alaska last month!

former law student said...

Just a few surnames represented by Soundex M622

MARASHKY | MARASEK | MARCHESE | MARCHUK | MARCIK | MARCOGUISSEPPE | MARCOUX | MARCUS | MARGASON | MARGESON | MARGISON | MARQUESS | MARQUIS | MARZEC | MURCHISON

Yeesh

T J Sawyer said...

The problem is the very limited set of characters in the character-set used on ballots. Obviously, we have to use "approximations" for Arabic, Chinese and Polish names.

This reminds me of the discussion people had when the Chinese or Indians "changed the spelling of their capital." Think Peking and Bombay.

I'm surprised no one has suggested any issue with Murkowska - the female form of the name usually spelled ...wski or ...wsky and frequently shortened to ...ski in the interest of American's limited abilities.

Whiskey Jim said...

I would not allow write-in votes. Period.

Althouse's poll question itself is evidence. You're going to judge a vote by discrimination?

The whole idea, beginning with mailing votes, is too fraught with fraud. It is a childish approach to one of our most important activities.

k*thy said...

I mean, really. Also, count me with those who don't think Murkowski is all that hard to spell. It's not like she is some random person who came out of nowhere, she is the sitting senator and somebody said she is a legacy as well. So the voters should be at least somewhat familiar with the name.

In a perfect world, sure, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons misspellings happen, and to just a list a few: dyslexia, simple transposing of letters, laziness, English not being their native language, etc. So with that, I think, A's So we're talking about what it means for "the name" to be "written." has merit.

On a personal note, my husband's last name is quite common and quite Anglo (think, some variation of ET's pal). I will swear to you that even when passing the name along, in written form to people we have never met before (and at time from a department that he's worked at for 30 years), 9 times out of 10 it comes back spelled incorrectly. You're right, it's not that hard, but it happens - and it seems reasonable to have some leeway.

former law student said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
victoria said...

What a jerk he is, and a loser. Miller, that is.
Running scared.

Vicki

former law student said...

If people really want to vote for Murkowski the least they can do is learn how to spell her name.

People spell FT's old home as "Tuscon" half the time, but the mail gets delivered anyways. Just ask anyone who lives in Forth Worth. And Tuscon is over 300 years old -- more than enough time to get the spelling right.

Bender said...

Because Murkowski demanded that elections officials hand out those lists of "official" write-in candidates, then the requirement should be that the name must match 100 percent exactly what was written on the list.

If not, then handing out those lists amounted to a campaign contribution by the state to Murkowski since no literature of the people on the ballot was handed out.

AJ Lynch said...

FLS is not stupid or a liar but since he is a true believer in the liberal way, he bends data & facts & stories to prop up his leftist worldview.


wv = braggeo

madawaskan said...

I'll grant you that the law is what it is-if that's specifically spelled out somewhere.


However, in determining voter intent to equate a dimpled chad to someone writing in Lisa Murkoski* is disingenuous to say the least.

You know good and well what the voter's intent was to pretend like you don't just because they left one letter out is Sean Penn performance worthy.

You are better off sticking with the 'letter of the law" .

The other side of this is common sense tells you what the voter's intent was using the 'letter of the law" to disenfranchise voters for one letter missing is not a long term winner for Miller in my opinion.

madawaskan said...

The voter's of Alaska will have common sense even if the law does not and they'll judge Miller accordingly.

He's already at 60% unfavorable before this action today.

madawaskan said...

Would you like Democrats going to court to take your vote away from you because you wrote in-

Sara Palin?

Shanna said...

they would deliberately incorrectly write-in a variation of “Murkowski” as a protest

What a bunch of idiots. They should have just voted for Miller, and elected their candidate.

I agree, Beth, that that would be idiotic. However, I suspect that most of the “I’m going to do a write in and spell her name wrong” folks were joking.

madawaskan said...

And they pretended for the life of them that they could not divine what your intent was?

former law student said...

OK, if I understand M622, a name could be confused (orally) with Murkowski if it

Starts with M,
Followed by a vowel,
Followed by R,
Followed by a K sound, either voiced ('G') or voiceless ('K' or 'CH'),
including CH pronounced as a CH as well as CH pronounced as a K.

former law student said...

Sara +Pailn gets 2800 hits.

AllenS said...

The name shall be spelled correctly to be valid, or kinda close.

Superdad said...

Murkowski should have made up a jingle. I can still remember the phone number for Empire Carpet from the commercials I saw 25 years ago. Anyone in living in the Chicago/Milwaukee area in the 80's and 90's sing along: "5 8 8 2 300. Empire."

She needed a jingle.

AllenS said...

Res ipsa kindaclosa

dbp said...

"the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy"

Miller could be really sneaky and demand that the name be not only spelled correctly, but also in the same font as the declaration of candidacy.

Hmmn. This one is spelled right, but it isn't in Comic Sans.

Shanna said...

In a perfect world, sure, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons misspellings happen, and to just a list a few: dyslexia, simple transposing of letters, laziness, English not being their native language, etc.

I voted in the poll for a letter or two off for just that reason. But when you allow leeway, you tend to get people counting with partisan intent, so I am leery of anything more than that. There should be a clear standard, and if the law says “spell it correctly” then that has to be it, right? Plus, there was a sheet of paper with her name on it. Voting is serious business. I am sure they make provisions for people who are illiterate, perhaps they could make accommodations for those who are dyslexic/non-native speaker/etc..?

exhelodrvr1 said...

Traditionally, there is not a common sense approach taken towards absentee ballots. Don't use "common sense" as the criteria now unless you are going to do that for other aspects of voting, too.

AllenS said...

Try filing your income tax with a couple of zeros off.

Original Mike said...

But when you allow leeway, you tend to get people counting with partisan intent,

And therein lies the problem. It's the reason for having a law in the first place. We agree, beforehand, on the rules.

Hagar said...

OK, so the law is not "perfectly" clear. It then comes down to an Alaskan court decision, for which the practice in previous Alaskan elections with write in candidates set the precedents, and if there are none, the judge(s) presumably would look for precedents in the elections of other U.S. states.

AllenS said...

It always comes down to this: it depends what the definition of is, is.

Christy said...

Do you figure they would count Lisa Murderedmycow, but not Lisa Goredmyox?

My last name is a 3-lettered noun in English. A first grader would spell it correctly on a vocabulary test. I'm so frequently asked to spell it, however, that by now I just say the name and immediately spell it when someone needs to write it down. Friends spell it wrong; Organization directories get it wrong. My brother had trophies engraved with wrong spellings. All I'm saying is that people of good will commonly spell names wrong.

Didn't that Minnelli woman have a TV concert called "Liza with a Z" in which she bemoaned in one song that everyone spelled her name wrong?

Paddy O said...

Voting is not a spelling contest. But that doesn't mean the law should be ignored.

Around here we're allowed to take voting guides, etc. into the voting booth. Is that different in Alaska? In which case, if someone wanted to spell her name right they should have brought in something with her name on it into the voting booth.

The exact spelling thing should be followed, not least because if it isn't it raises the appearance of extreme bias, as it was likely created to ward off some specific instance of misspelling for a less connected candidate.

Big Mike said...

@FLS, I checked the algorithm and you're absolutely right.

It hurt to type that; don't let it go to your head.

James said...

Irony - Tea Partiers calling for perfect spelling from their opponents.

Fred4Pres said...

Does "Mickey Mouse" = Murkowski?

Depends on your intent!

Original Mike said...

Irony - Tea Partiers calling for perfect spelling from their opponents.

Why, 'cause they're not smart like you?

Beth said...

I suspect that most of the “I’m going to do a write in and spell her name wrong” folks were joking.

So you're guessing that their intent is something other than what they stated?

HDHouse said...

Ann Althouse said:

"Intent of the voter. Ah! That brings back delightful memories of the Bush v. Gore recount."

wow, is tom delays' office staff gonna storm the Alaskan Sec. of State's office too?

James said...

Irony - Althouse conservatives can spend their days calling liberals everything from stupid to evil, but dare to make a joke about Tea Parties and misspellings, and you are a damned elitist!

Original Mike said...

If the shoe fits ...

Scott M said...

@ James

Your faux hurt feelings are sustaining me. Please continue with the theatrics. Besides, you can be an elitist without making fun of the tea partiers, as you well know. Accusations from someone who likely voted for the party with the infinitely elitist superdelegate mechnism reeks of humor.

I'll assume your whole point is satire and move on.

Larry J said...

Miller's name is on the ballot -- did he also run a write-in campaign?

If the voter put Miller in as a write in candidate (and spelled his name correctly), when why shouldn't that vote count? They clearly indicated they intended to vote for Miller and spelled his name correctly. Murkowski is trying to skirt the legal requirement for her name to be spelled correctly. That's opening up the vote to the same "hanging chad" mischief that Gore tried to pull in Florida back in 2000. If that is allowed, how incorrect could the spelling be and still count? Could a write in vote for Miller be counted for Murkowski because they "obviously" intended to vote for the write in candidate?

Revenant said...

You know good and well what the voter's intent was to pretend like you don't just because they left one letter out is Sean Penn performance worthy.

If one, why not two? If two, why not three? If three, why not four? If four, why not five? If five, why not six? If six, why not seven?

If seven, what distinguishes the names "Miller" and "Murkowski"?

Here's a radical suggestion: why not obey the law? It is easier to remember. Oh, sure, it has the downside of not giving people with political connections an advantage over everybody else, but sometimes democracy requires we make those little sacrifices. "I know it when I see it" is a stupid enough standard when judges use it in obscenity trials. As a method for determining our elected representatives, it is even worse.

wv unables: the class of people incapable of spelling a name even when it is written down in front of them

E.M. Davis said...

Why do keep rewarding stupidity?

Write the damn name correctly if YOU CARE THAT MUCH TO VOTE FOR THAT PERSON.

Also, it appears to be the law.

Sometimes, things are really easy. But then we throw out logic and feel so bad for the stupid voters who can't figure out basic shit.

Scott M said...

Why do [we] keep rewarding stupidity?

We are a country that was given, what, 18 months to get ready for the analog/digital tv conversion? And that had to be extended six months because some people couldn't get their shit together?

This is what irks me about nanny statism. Through reductions in expectations, whatever the mechanism, makes grown adults act more and more like children.

Scott M said...

...like the expectations of cogent and well-structured sentences. Unlike that last one.

lol

Revenant said...

Should we count the votes of people who intended to vote on Tuesday but didn't get to the polls on time? We don't want to disenfranchise people with clearly stated voting intents.

Original Mike said...

Sometimes, things are really easy. But then we throw out logic and feel so bad for the stupid voters who can't figure out basic shit.

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

AJ Lynch said...

Rev:

LMAO! Great argument re counting votes of those who intended to vote but stayed in bed instead!

Ankur said...

"they would deliberately incorrectly write-in a variation of “Murkowski” as a protest"

People who would waste their votes (which represents their most important civic duty) on a childish game to "show the pricess" or whatever it is they wanted to demonstrate - well, they're idiots.

And I don't think the majority of real voting people are idiots.

Thus, I have a hard time believing that someone would actually vote with a misspelling in order to throw a fit.

Also, you'd have to be pretty desperate to count those people among your supporters.

Ankur said...

pricess=princess, of course.

I mean..would any of YOU civic minded people waste your votes that way?

tim maguire said...

Miller is right to insist on perfection because that's his best chance to win. If compliance with the law or fairness to Murkowski is the goal, then Miller's perfection standard should apply (that is a reasonable consequence of Murkowski's demand for a voter guide).

If, however, fairness to the voter is the goal (and it should be), then any reasonably phonetic facsimile should be acceptable.

But what if the approximate spelling of Murkowski is the correct spelling of some other adult Alaskan? Then what? It seems to me that, no matter how liberal a standard is used, Murkowski should not get any vote that is actually another person.

Comrade X said...

If the law says it has to be spelled correctly, that's that.

If that imposes a burden on a write-in candidate, I suggest winning the primary next time.

Scott M said...

If that imposes a burden on a write-in candidate, I suggest winning the primary next time.

HOWARD JOHNSON IS RIGHT!!!

bgates said...

Should we count the votes of people who intended to vote on Tuesday but didn't get to the polls on time?

Sure. It was stated upthread that "laziness" was a "perfectly valid" reason why a vote might not turn out letter-perfect.

And let's not forget the large Hypothetical-Alaskan community of people who have thought about moving up there.

Shanna said...

So you're guessing that their intent is something other than what they stated?

Yes, I'm guessing that. Now if they “state” their intent on a ballot that’s a different story. People joke about things that they would never actually do. If they do it, they are idiots.

Revenant said...

If, however, fairness to the voter is the goal (and it should be), then any reasonably phonetic facsimile should be acceptable.

By "fair", do you mean "having rules simple enough for a 12 year old to follow, and applying them uniformly to everybody"?

Or do you mean "give special treatment to the people who showed up at the polls but are too stupid to follow directions, but NOT give any consideration to the people who forgot to vote, didn't have time to vote, simply couldn't get to the polls in time, cast a write-in ballot and then changed their minds, or otherwise fell victim to any of the countless problems that could cause a person to not successfully case a vote?"

Mark said...

Lest we forget:

Palin got her start at the state level in Alaska by fighting against the shenanigans foisted on the citizens by Republicans like Murkowski, her dad, Bridge-to-Nowhere Stevens, etc.

As long as she remains, consistently anti-asshole, I'm with Sarah.

Maybe Miller is a jerk, maybe not. With Murkowski, there ain't no doubt.

AJ Lynch said...

Just so everyone here is clear. In Alaska, you have to apply to be a formal write-in candidate which makes you eligible to get write-in votes. Over 100 people did that - at least one other was named Lisa M also.

Tim: you were joking with your comment about accepting "phonetic" spellings?

Ann Althouse said...

To those questioning me about the statutory text, I quoted it, requiring the name to be written "as appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate." Why are you (and Patterico) pretending not to see the material after the "or"? "As it appears" could be interpreted to require 100% correct spelling, but "the last name" seems pretty forgiving. You don't need to do anything more than have "the last name."

Mark said...

Also, if the Usual Leftist Suspects are worked up in defense of Our Lady of Murkwood, then I'm against her.

Seriously, guys; if she pulls it out she's going to caucus with the Republicans, and she's not going to want to go through this crapola again is six years. Do you REALLY thinks she's going to be significantly better for Obama than an outsider freshman Senator? Are you really that consumed by PDS?

AkRonin said...

Alaska law specifies that the name on the ballot must be spelled correctly. That's law.

garage mahal said...

If Sarah Palin weren't so busy schooling Ben Bernanke and the Wall Street Journal about complex monetary policies, quantitative easing, open market operations, and food prices, she could step in here and show her natural born leadership skills.

Scott M said...

I care less about what Palin has to say about quantitative easing than I do what a whole lot of very smart Germans have to say about it. And they're not pleased.

Ankur said...

"Alaska law specifies that the name on the ballot must be spelled correctly. That's law."

No, it isn't. Maybe you should re-read the statute. Ann has helpfully posted it a few posts above.

AJ Lynch said...

Garage- are you expressing 100% faith in Bernanke or just taking a gratuitous slap at Palin?

AllenS said...

That's a very good point, Professor. Obviously, if someone wrote the name Murfuckcowski, there should be no doubt of their intention.

AJ Lynch said...

Are Alaskans having trouble spelling Lisa too? Jeez I have heard they have a drinking problem up there.

Original Mike said...

Well, the wording of the statue is poor, but I think it requires the last name of the candidate to match how "it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy". I don't see why the full name would have to match but, if only the last name appears, it doesn't have to match.

garage mahal said...

Garage- are you expressing 100% faith in Bernanke or just taking a gratuitous slap at Palin?

The latter. If you can't make front of stupid people, what good is the internet?

Scott M said...

How does one 'make front' of a stupid person? I've made the back of a few gullible people...

Original Mike said...

Seriously, guys; if she pulls it out she's going to caucus with the Republicans

A lot of us don't support the incumbent Republicans. Clearing out the corrupt Repubs is just as, if not more, important than opposing the Obama agenda.

But I do think this is all theoretical. I'd be amazed if she doesn't have enough proper ballots.

AllenS said...

Republicans like McKain and Mudcowski are part of the problem.

madawaskan said...

As the statute is written you can't count candidates that did not file before the deadline as write-in candidates.

Unfortunately Politico can't be bothered to quote Campbell directly, but the AP did.

Campbell, who oversees elections, tells The Associated Press that because Miller's name isn't on the official list of write-in candidates, any ballots with "Joe Miller" written in won't be credited to the tea party favorite.

******

(11) A vote for a write-in candidate, other than a write-in vote for governor and lieutenant governor, shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided.

(12) If the write-in vote is for governor and lieutenant governor, the vote shall be counted if the oval is filled in and the names, as they appear on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor or the last names of the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, or the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate for governor or the last name of the candidate for governor is written in the space provided.

(b) The rules set out in this section are mandatory and there are no exceptions to them. A ballot may not be counted unless marked in compliance with these rules.


findlaw.com Alaska Statutes

Miller did not filed a write-in declaration of candidacy.

AJ Lynch said...

So the law says tough shit if you spelled your candidate's wrong.

Revenant said...

VOTING FAIRNESS TEST

Question #1
Rank these activities in order of decreasing difficulty:

A. Finding time, on a working weekday, to get to a polling location, wait in line, and cast a ballot.

B. Applying for an absentee/early ballot, filling it out, and mailing it in.

C. Spelling Lisa Murkowski's name while holding a piece of paper that has Lisa Murkowski's name written on it.

Mark said...

A lot of us don't support the incumbent Republicans. Clearing out the corrupt Repubs is just as, if not more, important than opposing the Obama agenda.

Agreed. I just find it amusing that FLS, Garage, RV, etc. even have an opinion here, and that it is so monolithically in support of the Corrupt Republican over the Outsider Republican. Or maybe I'm not so surprised.

Original Mike said...

Miller did not filed a write-in declaration of candidacy.

I'd be interested to know, at the end of the day, how many (if any) write in votes went to Miller. If the amount is more than a handful, in the future the smart candidate will register as a write-in (as well as being on the ballot proper), just in case he needs a few hundred extra votes in a close election.

Original Mike said...

C. Spelling Lisa Murkowski's name while holding a piece of paper that has Lisa Murkowski's name written on it.

I'd also be interested in knowing what percentage of my fellow citizens could not properly transfer the name on the piece of paper in their hand to the ballot.

garage mahal said...

It is pretty sleazy of Murkowsky to demand that misspellings of her name count, but that write-in votes for her opponent don't.

You misspelled Murkowski. Haha.

AllenS said...

Obviously the law needs to be rewritten for clarity.

How about this: if the last name is spelled wrong then it's tough fuckin shit, it doesn't fuckin count, no fuckin matter what.

Revenant said...

Miller did not filed a write-in declaration of candidacy.

Good point. Let me quote an earlier remark of yours:

using the 'letter of the law" to disenfranchise voters for one letter missing is not a long term winner for Miller in my opinion.

So... is using "the letter of the law" to "disenfranchise" people who cast write-in votes for Miller a long-term winner for Murkowski?

Just curious.

You see, that's what people win when they talk about "heads I win, tails you lose". The court appears to be following the letter of the law when it hurts Miller, and "common sense" when it helps Murkowski.

Mark said...

FWIW, the letter of the law seems to indicate that any ballot that misspells Murkowski's name is a null vote. Having said that, I voted in the poll that being real close should be good enough.

I'm torn between the strict legalism (which obviously is a valid approach) and the principal of protecting the franchise of voters making an honest mistake.

What galls me, of course, is that the ruling class of which Murkowski considers herself a permanent member really feels above petty things like laws, let alone rules or honor. So if she wins, I'll consider it a loss for the common citizen, even while respecting the common citizen's right to step forward and say "thank you ma'am may I have another!"

AJ Lynch said...

Hmmm so If a write-in vote is for Miller, they dishonor the intent of the voter by not allowing it.

But if they misspell Murkowski's name, they honor the intent of the voter.

Seems contradictory to me when they follow the law in one case [Miller failed to register as a write-in candidate] and don't follow it another [accepting misspelled ballots contra what the law states].

AJ Lynch said...

We will have to revise that old saying to "Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and voting against a Republican candidate".

madawaskan said...

Revenant-

I really doubt that it happened that often.

What is happening is Miller's lawyers are arguing from both sides of their mouths.

One minute they want the letter of the law, next they want Miller write-ins counted.

That was my point.

************************

Just to add to it all-if you get into the muddy details of it-how do you know that those ballots aren't over votes?

Or a vote where it was counted automatically by machine for Miller?

In other words the voter filled in the Republican candidate slot, it was counted by machine then it gets sorted out visually for the write-in ballot.

You could see where a voter wanted to make sure that his vote counted and would write-in his candidate that was automatically on the ballot.

You would have to make sure that those votes weren't counted twice.

An over vote is something different that would be where the voter filled in for one candidate in the party lines and then wrote in for someone else.

There's no way to count that.

You also have this beaut from the Miller campaign his lawyer in the filing actually made the argument that the misspelled votes were "protest votes" and then goes on to say that it's the Alaska election officials making a "mockery" of the electoral process.

So just to get this straight-Miller asserts that people wanting to protest Murkowski-instead of voting for him-wasted their vote and then purposefully did a write-misspelling her last name because some radio jock told them to.

So that supposed immaturity should be used to rationalize nullifying the vote of voters that voted in good faith.

That's some weak brew there.

If I were a judge I'd get the feeling Joe's lawyers were making a mockery of the court.

madawaskan said...

Well word is that even Joe's own lawyers using their own stringent standards- have only been able to challenge 10% of the write-in vote thus far.

The Democrat count watchers are reporting that the write-ins are surprisingly correct in spelling.

campy said...

Seriously, guys; if she pulls it out she's going to caucus with the Republicans

Sure, that's what she says ... now.

animositas said...

Can't find a definitive answer but I thought the voters were allowed a list of the write-in candidate names.

Even if that wasn't the case, if you can't spell the name of the candidate you want your vote shouldn't count.

dbp said...

I think the most obvious interpretation of, "or the last name of the candidate" is that you can omit the candidate's first name.

A last name is by definition, the right letters in the right order.

Sigivald said...

Michael Haz: So, If someone writes in "Lisa Murkovsky", they're referring to some completely different person?

How about Murkowsky? Murkovski? Merkovskey?

Is being bad with Polish names or transliterations really the same as Voting For Some Other Person?

I don't recall there being some other person with even a vaguely similar name in this contest, such that there would be any ambiguity in my preceding examples...

If voters were voting for "not a person named Lisa Murkowski", who were they voting for, in those cases?

Because for them to have been voting not-for-her, they'd have to be voting for-someone-else, I'd think. And the lack of plausible alternatives is kinda telling, no?

Fen said...

Nope. Bad Precedent. This cant be based on any kind of subjective judgement, or it WILL be abused.

Spell it correctly or it does not count.

tim maguire said...

Revenant, I mean not looking for opportunities to cheat people out of their vote. That is vote stealing just as surely as ballot box stuffing or dead people voting.

Note that I draw a distinction between what is fair to the candidate (who has no right to office) and what is fair to the voter (who does have a right to have their preference counted so long as they show up).

Sigivald said...

(The law, of course, says it must be perfectly spelled, but I'm not talking about the law, or what the electoral system should do in this election.

I'm replying to the idea that it "was" a vote for "another person" because of the spelling.

Which is farkin' ludicrous on its face, in this context.

John Stodder said...

Murkowsky wouldn't have had a chance if Miller wasn't such a head-scratchingly "off" candidate. Something about that guy just didn't sit right.

madawaskan said...

Michael Haz:

There was a deadline for write-in candidates to submit their names so it's not as random as you might expect.

In fact since Joe Miller did not submit his name as a write-in candidate he can't in good faith while demanding strict adherence to a statute -ask that write-ins for Joe Miller be counted.

Yet he did.

T J Sawyer said...

"...or the last name of the candidate."

So if we were discussing Lisa Wong and someone wrote in "Wong" in the properly formed Chinese character, it would count.

Ah, but how properly formed would it have to be?

Lance said...

(who does have a right to have their preference counted so long as they show up)

Actually, no, that's not correct. The U.S. Constitution leaves it to the state legislatures to decide what counts as a vote, and I don't believe any state (certainly not Alaska) has ever specified that a person's vote counts if they just "show up".

The Grand Inquisitor said...

"Much further along in the thread Gabriel Hanna (Hana? Henna? Xhena?) makes another valid point. After all, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that one cannot fly directly over the Presidential Mansion because flying machines had not yet been invented.
"

One of the enumerated powers the government actually has is defense. So bzzzzzzzzzzzzt!

C R Krieger said...

Given that Senator Muircowski decided to not accept the decision of the Republican voters in the Primary I think it is only fair that Joe Miller push all the buttons right up until he gets to be the US Senator or the judges have finished it all up and awarded the seat to Ms Mercrowski, or however she spells it.

Regards  —  Cliff

G Joubert said...

According to Miller, not only does Alaska law require 100% correct spellings, but that has also always been past practice in prior Alaska elections when write-in campaigns were undertaken.

tim maguire said...

Lance said...

Actually, no, that's not correct. The U.S. Constitution leaves it to the state legislatures to decide what counts as a vote, and I don't believe any state (certainly not Alaska) has ever specified that a person's vote counts if they just "show up".


Lance, I recommend you ask for your money back on your copy of the Constitution. It says no such thing. States control "time, place and manner" of voting. There are severe restrictions on their ability to disqualify a vote or voter.

Your suggestion that a person can be cheated out of his vote if he supports someone you don't is despicable.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't see how you can ascertain voter intent without perfect spelling when there are over 100 write-in candidates.

Also, if the law says you have to spell it right, then you have to spell it right. That may thwart some attempted votes, but that's why serious candidates try to get their names on the ballot rather than being write-ins.

Revenant said...

I really doubt that it happened that often.

So the standard has shifted from "'disenfranchising' people who didn't follow the law is bad" to "'disenfranchising' the people who didn't follow the law is fine, provided the number 'disenfranchised' is greater than X but less than Y, where X is the number of write-in votes for Miller and Y is the number of Murkowski voters who can't spell".

Well, goodness. I can see why we wouldn't want to do something as simple as obey the law. Doing it the "common sense" way allows for so many more billable hours. Democracy is best when decided by judges instead of ballots.

Revenant said...

Is being bad with Polish names or transliterations really the same as Voting For Some Other Person?

Transliterations from what? Her last name is Murkowski, not Mzkrzkyvky or however the heck her distant Polish ancestor spelled it.

Revenant said...

Note that I draw a distinction between what is fair to the candidate (who has no right to office) and what is fair to the voter (who does have a right to have their preference counted so long as they show up).

Well yes, if you define "fair" as exactly the circumstance's you're trying to defend then yes, big shocker, the circumstances you're trying to defend seem quite fair indeed.

My only question would be: why is the "showing up" restriction fair? We already allow accommodations for people who don't, e.g. absentee ballots. If it is "fair" to ignore the law and count the vote of a person who can't copy nine letters from one piece of paper to another, why isn't it "fair" to ignore the law and count the ballots of people who mailed them in after 11/2? Or the ballots of people who didn't register at all?

Why is "I'm sorry, I'm a moron" a valid reason to ignore the law? Can you plead gross stupidity to get out of a speeding ticket, too?

Roux said...

It has to be written exactly for her to get the vote... Sorry but you lost and you have to play by the rules.

AllenS said...

New law:

Don't Ask, Don't Spell

madawaskan said...

Revenant-

To be clear, if I were the Alaska officials I would not count Miller write-ins at this point in time as a matter of procedure.

You need to make sure that they weren't counted twice-once automatically by machine and then again if the voter also wrote in Joe Miller's name.

Then if it was up to me *personally* after making sure of that I would count the Joe Miller write-ins.

Sorry if that sours your day.

Again I was trying to point out to you that Miller is trying to have it both ways.

He wants the letter of the law and beyond when counting Murkowski votes then when it comes to counting write-in votes for himself he wants a waiver on the section of the statute that requires candidates to submit to the candidacy list by a certain deadline.

So the inconsistency is on him.

If I was the judge I'd say fine let's go with your original argument.

But I have no idea what the reams of law would be in this area.

I do know that Miller-is trying to have it both ways.

And I'll admit that I dislike the squirrelly type of guy who would sneak on to three of his fellow employees' computers during their lunch hour to do something that he wouldn't do on his own computer so that they could take the fall for it.

He then lied about it twice before admitting to all of it in writing in his own personnel file while acting as a lawyer for the city of Fairbanks.

So you would think he would learn that telling the truth as soon as possible would be the way to operate but given the chance again what did he do?

He stonewalled.

Great candidate you got yourself there-this guy is an embarrassment to West Point.

madawaskan said...

Also Revenant as Mr. Libertarian Third Party do you really want to maintain these standards for third parties?

Cris Cristie wouldn't count?

***************

Freeman

The list wouldn't have been 100 candidates long if the tea Party motivated by shock jocks hadn't in bad faith submitted most of those names in about the last 24 hours.

You really want to hold this up as an example good faith democracy in action?

mccullough said...

Do the people counting the votes have to know how to spell it correctly?

former law student said...

Agreed. I just find it amusing that FLS, Garage, RV, etc. even have an opinion here, and that it is so monolithically in support of the Corrupt Republican over the Outsider Republican.

Democrats want elections to represent the voice of the people; Republicans prefer to keep the riffraff from voting -- photo ID privileges drivers and penalizes the elderly, mailing letters to last registered address penalizes the homeless, etc.

The spelling requirement is eerily similar to the literacy tests that kept Southern blacks from voting for years.

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