In the 2010 US Senate race in Alaska, several interesting events occurred, requiring unprecedented decisions by elections officials, and in some cases reversal of previous precedent. For the most part, everything was handled as well as could be expected. While I would do a few things differently in the same situation, the outcome would have been basically the same. I should also point out that many of the people who made those various decisions would also do a few things differently, with the benefit of hindsight; overall they did a reasonable job in a demanding circumstance.
One of the complaints was that one candidate’s votes were being counted by hand, while all the others were being machine counted only. Machine counts are more strict, more likely to undercount, and they can vary each time the cards are recounted by the machine. Equal protection under the law is an important and fundamental principle of our society. I would have granted the request to hand count votes for each candidate that requested it, provided the candidate agreed to pay the additional expense if the hand count did not vary from the machine count by a significant margin, perhaps one percent.
Interpretation of voter intent was another topic of contention. Strict interpretation of State law required that one of two strict and specific formats be used for a write-in vote; “Lastname” or “Lastname, Firstname”. We are not strict and specific machines, we are intelligent and compassionate humans. I felt that the Division of Elections guidelines for interpreting voter intent were reasonable, although I might have been slightly stricter which may have effected 100 votes. The bottom line is that if someone goes into a voting booth with the intent to vote for a candidate, and they make a reasonable effort to do so, then that vote should count for that candidate.
Many people fault Mr. Miller for continuing the fight longer than they felt he should have. I do not. In certain ways, the Miller camp was not treated in a fair and equitable manner. Some of these ways were not addressed because it was recognized by the decision makers that no substantial difference to the outcome would be achieved. Joe Miller is a man of principle, and it was for principle that he was fighting. It was Miller’s duty and obligation to fight, not only for the 90,740 people that voted for him, but for the greater principle of justice and equality. When time ran out before the next congress was to be sworn in, and continuing the fight would cause harm to Alaska, Miller did the better thing and conceded so that Alaska could maintain continuous representation in the Senate. While I do not agree with him on many issues, I respect Joe Miller.