Murkowski seeks clarification on election write-in criteria

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is mounting a write-in campaign to hold onto her job, said she wants the state to say whether people who misspell her name will have their votes count. "Right now," Murkowski said Friday, "I think it's fair to say there is a lot of uncertainty. And there are enough hurdles with a write-in candidacy that we want to get clarification to the fullest extent possible."

Also Friday, Gov. Sean Parnell endorsed Miller, and the Alaska Federation of Natives board unanimously backed Murkowski. The resolution will be considered by AFN's full membership at the organization's annual convention in October.

This month, Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees Alaska elections, said he expected officials would "lean toward a liberal" view on spelling, and not discard a vote because "Murkowski" was misspelled, so long as voter intent was clear. But Campbell later issued a statement sidestepping the issue, saying he wouldn't address hypotheticals.

Also unclear: whether "Lisa," "LM" or "Lisa M" would count. Not according to Campbell's reading of the law, which is that voters would need to mark the ballot oval and write in the candidate's last name or the name as it appears on the candidate's declaration to run. He's asked the attorney general to review the matter.

The election is Nov. 2.

History isn't on Murkowski's side: Historians and election officials can't think of any Alaska candidate who's successfully run as a write-in.

And she's running not only against Miller, a self-described constitutional conservative who's been furiously raising money and further building his grassroots network, but also against outside groups like Tea Party Express -- staunch Miller supporters that have vowed in some cases to spend at least $100,000 to help defeat Murkowski. Miller is also raising money on his own, and announced on Twitter that he's raised nearly $250,000 online in the previous five days.

Democrat Scott McAdams' campaign said he raised about $300,000 in three weeks.

Murkowski has widespread name recognition and has a track record voters can look at. She also said she has more than $1 million in the bank, and is raising more. She asked a group of Washington lobbyists and others for donations.

McAdams and Miller each also hope to raise at least $1 million of their own. Miller is scheduled to be in Washington for meetings with GOP leaders and a fundraiser next week.

It could take a while for Alaskans to learn the outcome of the race. State Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said officials will have to wait until all ballots are counted before they can determine whether there are enough write-ins for them to be legally required to hand count them.

The division plans to hire additional workers to serve on hand-count teams, which separate ballots with write-in votes in the race from those without them. She said the process could take three to five days.

Daily News staff and wire