US Senate race unlikely to see quick conclusion

If you were hoping for the Senate drama to end today, you might not have that wish fulfilled any time soon. The race that has captured national attention could drag on for weeks after votes are cast today.

Junior Heather Aronno, president of the College Democrats, predicted a slow conclusion to the race.

“It’s safe to say that we’re not going to know who wins the U.S. Senate race until at least Thanksgiving, if not after,” Aronno said.

One reason that might come true stems from the fact that this campaign has not been shy to legal action.

Republican candidate Joe Miller has been on the receiving end of some of that litigation. For instance, his former employer was sued for the release of his personnel records.

Miller has also taken legal steps. He recently filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee against a political action committee formed by Alaska Native corporations, questioning the legality of their committee since they have received federal contracts.

For her part, Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s campaign recently intervened in the lawsuit regarding lists of write-in candidates being made available at polling sites. The Alaska Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Alaska had teamed up against the State of Alaska’s Division of Elections for the lawsuit.

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These are just some of the legal actions that have been taken thus far in the campaign. In response, officials are being careful to follow the procedures set by law in counting the votes.

Gail Fenumiai, director of the Division of Elections laid out those procedures very specifically. They will begin counting votes tonight.

“We will have results posted starting at 9 p.m. and then every 15 to 20 minutes thereafter,” she said.

The Division has 15 days to complete the ballot count with final numbers expected Nov. 17. In order for Murkowski’s votes to be counted, she must receive either the highest number or second highest number of votes.

If a Florida repeat is in our future, the candidates may request a recount within five days of the vote count being certified. Legal action must be taken within ten days of the same.

Senior Tracey Alexander, president of the Political Science Association predicted a very split vote among Republicans, which she thought might result in a better chance for the Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams. She did not rule out the candidates taking legal action.

“With the way it’s been going, I honestly could expect it,” Alexander said.

But legal action is not the only thing that could slow down the results of the race.

In fact, the Republican U.S. Senate primary did not end until one week after the vote when Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceded. She had lost by about 1,600 votes.

That story could repeat itself this race. Student Will Poley, a member of the College Republicans, thinks today’s election will look much like the primary.

“I really think that between Murkowski and Miller, it’s going to be within a couple thousand votes,” Poley said. “It will probably be mid-December before we have an answer that is somewhat tentative.”

The good news, however, is that voter turnout is predicted to be much higher this year than in previous elections. As of last Wednesday, the Division of Elections reported already receiving over 12,000 absentee ballots as well as nearly 8,000 early votes.