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Miller: Alaska Senate race is far from over

Erika Bolstad,Sean CockerhamMcClatchy-Tribune News Service
Scott McAdams supporters watch for returns at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Mia Costello celebrates her election to a state house at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Joe Miller and his wife Kathleen participate in an election night party at the Snow Goose Restaurant Tuesday night, November 2, 2010.
Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski waves to supporters after she cast her ballot at the Girdwood Community Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Senator Lisa Murkowski talks to the national media as supporters waive signs in the background at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sean Parnell thanks supporters flanked by his wife Sandy, left, and his running mate Mead Treadwell at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
District Judge Richard Postma campaigns for retention on the bench with his daughter Kathryn Postma on the corner of Lake Otis and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Ted Kelly, 15, and Conor Feckley, 15, hold Lisa Murkowski campaign signs at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers early returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010. At left is son Matt. Her other son Nic is behind her and friend Hope Nelson is at right.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Campaign signs are waved at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
U.S. Senate Republican candidate Joe Miller leaves his campaign party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on election night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller sticker at the Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Steve Miller the organizer of the Joe Miller sign waving militia waves a Betsy Ross flag at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
U.S. Senate Republican candidate Joe Miller, in vehicle, prepares to leave his campaign party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on election night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Campaign signs for Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller are waved at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Election worker Sharon Yore, right, hands out a sticker to a voter in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Congressman Don Young congratulates Lisa Murkowski at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller is greeted by Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich at an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski talks with reporters after she cast her ballot at the Girdwood Community Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Senator Lisa Murkowski wore a campaign bracelet while being interviewed by the national media at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams greets rush hour drivers Tuesday afternoon November 2, 2010 along Minnesota Drive at West Northern Lights Boulevard.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Voters at Goldenview Middle School line up to cast their ballots Tuesday morning, in what election workers called a strong turnout.
Richard J. Murphy / Anchorage Daily News
Harry Crawford, right, is pleased to hear Michael Powell displayed a Crawford sign in his yard at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Jean Byers puts on a sticker after casting her ballot in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A group of sheeple who organized on Facebook wave signs at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010. The group were there to illustrate white sheep feel that black sheep have the wrong values and vice versa. One of the sheeple commented "We have nothing in common with those black sheep.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams walks to election central flanked by his wife Romee, left, and daughter Kaity, 16, right, after leaving a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller introduces his eight children on stage during an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Alaska gubernatorial challenger Ethan Berkowitz reaches out while campaigning at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Benson Blvd. on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Senator Lisa Murkowski supporters waived signs at Election Central in the Egan Center Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers early returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010. At left is her son Matt and at right is friend Hope Nelson.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski walks with her family after she cast her ballot at the Girdwood Community Center on November 2, 2010. From left is son Matt Martell, husband Verne Martell and son Nic Martell is at right.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
District Judge Richard Postma campaigns for retention on the bench with his daughter Kathryn Postma on the corner of Lake Otis and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sean Parnell and running mate Mead Treadwell field questions on the KTUU set at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Alaska governor Sean Parnell and democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz shake hands while campaigning at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Xochitl Horton campaigns in support of Senator Lisa Murkowski in her reelection bid at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
State House candidate Lupe Marroquin visits at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Don Young thanks supporters at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Campaign volunteer Suzy Walsh waits for returns replete with a Scott McAdams mustache at a McAdams campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and his wife Kathleen thank their supporters before leaving an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
Bill Roth
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams is herded to an interview by KTUU chaperones at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Arlene Cowles and her daughter Matilda, 8, read the sign upon entering the polling place in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A voter enters the polling place in Indian at the Valley Bible Chalet along the Seward Highway on Tuesday morning, November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Scott McAdams visits as he arrives at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski and her supporters march downtown toward the Egan Center on November 2, 2010.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller is greeted by Alaska Republican Party chairman Randy Ruedrich at an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Naomi Stapp waves Joe Miller signs at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010. Stapp is Alutiq.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Don Young is interviewed for KSKA at election central Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at the Egan Center downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Democratic Senatorial candidate Scott McAdams urges his supporter to continue to be proud Democrats and continue to fight regardless of the outcome tonight at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and his wife Kathleen are greeted by supporters as the arrive at an Election Day party at the Snow Goose Restaurant on Tuesday night, Nov. 2, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Senator Lisa Murkowski talks with her father Frank Murkowski (second from right), former Alaska governor and senator, during lunch at the Lucky Wishbone restaurant in Anchorage on November 2, 2010. At far right is Lisa's husband Verne Martell. Lunch at the Lucky Wishbone is an Election Day tradition for Lisa's family, a campaign spokesperson said.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Scott McAdams poses with Rachel Lauesen, left, and Harriet Drummond at a campaign party in Club Soraya Tuesday evening November 2, 2010 at 4th Avenue market place downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters and cheers early returns at her Election Night party at the Dena'ina Convention Center on November 2, 2010. Her son Matt is at left. Her husband Verne Martell is behind her with her other son Nic.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Queen Lisa played by US Senate candidate Joe Miller supporter Bob Dreyer sits in the back of Hummer at the corner of the New Seward Highway and Northern Lights on election day Tuesday November 2, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
. Senate candidate Scott McAdams stops for lunch on election day at the Lucky Wishbone in Anchorage. Son Gavin, 5, is eating a grilled cheese.
RICHARD MAUER / Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska U.S. Senate race hasn't been decided, Republican Joe Miller said this morning. His campaign issued a statement saying he "remains optimistic" that he'll be "the next U.S. senator from the state of Alaska."

Election returns on Tuesday showed Sen. Lisa Murkowski's historic write-in campaign in the lead - with 432 of 438 precincts reporting, 41 percent of the voters had filled in the write-in oval on their ballot. Most of those likely wrote in incumbent Sen. Murkowski, who spent over $1 million telling voters to "fill it in, write in" after she lost to Miller in the Aug. 24 Republican primary.

The state mailed more than 30,000 absentee ballots but won't begin counting them until next Tuesday. Until those are counted, it's premature for the race to be considered a Murkowski victory, the Miller campaign said.

"At this point, without a single write-in ballot counted, Lisa Murkowski has no claim on a victory," Miller's campaign said in a statement on his website.

"With tens of thousands of absentee votes yet to be counted, and the disposition of the write-in ballots cast unknown, who will be Alaska's next United States Senator is yet to be determined," said Miller's spokesman, Randy DeSoto. "We will all have to have some patience as we allow the Division of Elections to complete the ballot counting process."

The Miller campaign is arguing that as many as 5 to 6 percent of ballots were thrown out in previous elections.

Write-in ballots are opened and counted by hand only if there are enough to flat-out win the race or if the number of write-ins comes a close second -- within 0.5 percent -- of the candidate with the most votes.

Simply writing a candidate's first name or initials may not work. State law calls for voters to fill out the last name of the candidate, or his or her full name as it appears on the candidate's declaration to run.

Ballots that include a write-in name but don't have the oval filled in won't be counted, election officials have said. Filling in the oval is a requirement of state law.


By ERIKA BOLSTAD and SEAN COCKERHAM
Anchorage Daily News