Even though election season is over, the battle for Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat has seemingly only just begun.
After the Tuesday-night madness that is Election Day, at the top of the leader board was the ambiguous “write-in,” which was in front by a fairly significant margin.
Lisa Murkowski, by far the most prominent write-in candidate during the general election, mounted an extremely ambitious campaign and fought the uphill battle has all but claimed victory.
Declaring her and her campaign’s efforts a success may seem legitimate, but as it stands, the battle is far from over. Both Murkowski’s and Republican candidate Joe Miller’s campaigns are digging in – so it’s apparent that they do expect a serious amount of controversy before this is all said and done.
The Lieutenant Governor also threw a couple wrenches in the mix, which do not settle particularly well with either campaign.
First, the date for counting the write-in votes has been moved up, leaving a bad taste in the Miller campaign, and understandably so. It potentially puts his campaign a somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to putting people on the ground in Juneau and putting together a legal team to deal with what looks to be inevitable litigation.
Second, it has been decided that write-in ballots with Miller’s name on them will be counted, assuming they are filled out correctly, as is the case with Murkowski as well. One can’t help but think that this has made her campaign unhappy.
Whether those decisions were correct or not is not really an issue, they are decisions that both campaigns will have to deal with in the coming weeks.
But, one thing definitely is not for certain; was Murkowski too quick to declare victory, despite the promising numbers generated by write-in votes?
Sure, the odds are probably in her favor since she was the only candidate to run an intense campaign, educating voters on the finer points of writing in a candidate – i.e. spell the name correctly and don’t forget to fill in the bubble – but, as of the day of the election, there were around 160 other write-in candidates on the ballot as well.
This leaves a lot of variables that have yet to be determined, including the as-of-yet undetermined number of ballots that will be thrown out because of misspellings, not filling in that ominous bubble and who knows how many other things.
Even though the count did get moved up considerably, it seems likely that it will not be completely figured out for quite awhile.
No matter what happens in the end, this election was a good thing for Alaskans. Apart from Palin’s run alongside John McCain in 2008, for Vice President and President respectively, this one has appeared to get Alaskans involved more so than most others.
But, one can’t help but wonder whether or not Murkowski has called it a tad early with so many unknowns remaining. One thing is for sure, however; the next few weeks should be pretty interesting in regards to this race.