Legislature passes voter intent law

MISSPELLINGS: Elections officials can use own discretion.

April 14, 2011 

JUNEAU -- The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill aimed at avoiding the chaos that surrounded last year's U.S. Senate race.

The bill allows a state elections official to use discretion in determining voter intent for write-in ballots. That means that ballots with misspelled names could be counted toward a candidate's tally.

This is in keeping with how the state handled write-in ballots for Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski mounted an unprecedented write-in campaign after losing the GOP primary to Joe Miller.

Miller sued, saying the state wasn't following the letter of the law. But the state Supreme Court held that voter intent is paramount and was among three courts refusing to overturn results favoring Murkowski.

Senate Bill 31, which now goes to the governor, seeks to codify the finding of the courts.

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