Update: Federal judge places hold on disputed Alaska election
A federal judge has placed a conditional hold on the results of the disputed Alaska Senatorial race, giving Joe Miller’s campaign an opportunity to challenge the result in state court.
According to the New York Times, “The judge in the federal case, Ralph R. Beistline of United States District Court, did not rule on the question of whether misspelled votes should count, saying only that the Miller view was ‘very possible’ and that the state’s was ‘viable.’ … Even without the challenged ballots, Ms. Murkowski is ahead by about 2,000 votes. Her campaign said Friday that the ruling would not affect the results.”
Lisa Murkowski declared herself the winner of Alaska’s Senate race on Wednesday, but on Thursday Miller asked a federal judge to order Alaska to halt its certification of election results.
“An attorney for Joe Miller sought the injunction as part of a previous lawsuit challenging write-in ballots for Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent senator,” according to the Associated Press.
The lawsuit maintains that voters must write in the candidate’s name on the ballot exactly as it is appears on the declaration of candidacy. Law would require voters to write “Lisa Murkowski” or “Murkowski” for the vote to be counted.
But in the case that a voter doesn’t spell the name correctly or abbreviates the name, Director Gail Fenumiai says the Division of Elections would determine the voter’s intent.
“Now we are going to find out how many people can put nine letters together that somewhat resemble Murkowski,” KTVA-TV anchor Matt Felling told CNN.
Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall pointed out that Miller’s lawsuit seems to claim that voters who misspell Murkowski’s name actually support him.
“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,” Miller’s suit reads. “So protest voters were trying to send a message to the candidate.”
Daily Mail Don Surber observed that Miller should be careful not to disenfranchise voters over simple spelling errors. “You go by intent, not some exclusionary interpretation of the law. If more people want her as senator than him, she had better win,” Surber wrote.
As of now, Murkowski holds a lead of about 10,400 votes. Miller has challenged 8,153 ballots. Even if a court rules in his favor, Miller would still be trailing.
The Miller campaigned complained that because the Division of Elections began its count a week early, they weren’t able to properly challenge ballots.
“[M]y campaign team and I were forced to pull together volunteer observers at the last minute, and did not have time to adequately and fully recruit and train them before counting began,” Miller said. “As a result, an indeterminate number of ballots with candidates’ names misspelled were counted without being challenged during the first several days of counting.”
Miller has said he intends to request a recount.
If Murkowski maintains her lead, she will be the first write-in candidate in over 50 years to win a Senate seat.
Judge blocks effort to conceal details in Trump campaign crimes case as Bill Barr’s DOJ mysteriously closes the probe
A federal judge confirmed on Wednesday that the Justice Department has ended its investigation into campaign finance crimes committed by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, indicating that no one else will face charges in the case. But Judge William Pauley also announced that, over the government’s objections, he will be making many of the underlying documents in the case public without requested redactions.
The case stemmed from Cohen’s efforts during the 2016 campaign to secure hush money payments for two women who said they had affairs with Donald Trump. Since investigators determined these payments were done in order to help secure Trump’s victory, the spending counted as campaign contributions that were never recorded and were, in fact, illegally concealed. The Trump Organization, Cohen has said, helped repay him for the costs of the hush money while disguising the payment falsely as a legal retainer.
Rand Paul just blocked the 9/11 victim fund because it isn’t paid for — but didn’t care when it was a $1.5 trillion tax cut
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked a call for unanimous consent on Wednesday to push forward with a funding extension for the victims of 9/11, claiming that the new spending should be paid for.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for the bill to be passed in the Senate by unanimous consent, but even a single lawmaker’s objection can block the move and slow down the process. The measure is still widely expected to pass, but Paul wants to use the opportunity to complain about the national debt.
“We need to address our massive debt in this country,” he said “We have a $22 trillion debt. We’re adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year. And therefore any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that’s going to have the longevity of 70-80 years, should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. We need to at least have this debate.”
Breakthrough technique eradicates mosquitoes
A breakthrough technique harnessing two methods to target disease-carrying mosquitoes was able to effectively eradicate buzzing biters in two test sites in China, according to research published on Thursday.
The mosquitoes targeted are a type that is particularly difficult to control called Aedes albopictus -- more popularly known as the Asian tiger mosquito -- which are a major vector for diseases including Zika and dengue.
The study "demonstrates the potential of a potent new tool", wrote Peter Armbruster, a professor at Georgetown University's department of biology, in a review of the work.