Judge lets Murkowski into Senate challenge case

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Associated Press

Posted on December 2, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 2 at 6:05 PM

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge is allowing Sen. Lisa Murkowski to have a say in a legal challenge to Alaska's U.S. Senate race.

Attorneys for Murkowski argued that she should be allowed to intervene in the lawsuit that her Republican rival, Joe Miller, brought against the state over the manner in which it conducted the election. Miller contends the state did not follow the law, notably in its decision to use discretion in tallying write-in votes for Murkowski.

Attorney Scott Kendall said in court Wednesday that Murkowski should be entitled to protect her "victory" and have a say in the proceedings. Judge William Carey agreed to let her into the case Thursday.

Unofficial results from the Nov. 2 election showed Murkowski with a lead, and she has declared victory. Her attorneys maintained her interests wouldn't be adequately represented by the state, as Miller's attorneys argued they would be.

Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate after losing her primary to Miller. Results showed Murkowski with 101,088 votes, compared to Miller's 90,760. Excluding ballots challenged by Miller observers over a week of hand-counting ballots, she held a 2,169-vote lead.

Kendall said Murkowski was at odds with the state over its deciding not to count another 2,016 ballots for her.

Many of those did not have the ballot ovals filled but had her name written in. Others, according to attorney Scott Kendall, had "Lisa M." written in or various misspellings. He said those ballots represent a significant chunk of the more than 258,000 total ballots cast. The judge's decision means Murkowski would be able to fight to have those ballots included, if things got to that point.

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