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The write-in counting is underway in Alaska


JUNEAU, AK -- The ballots are arriving now.

Per Gail Fenumiai of the Division of Elections, counting of the write-in ballots in the still-undecided Senate race between GOP nominee Joe Miller and write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski will get underway, despite the lawsuit filed by the Miller camp to halt counting until stiffer guidelines are established for determining which votes are valid.

According to Alaska election law, the write-in oval must be filled in, and either a candidate's last name or the candidate's name as it appears on the candidacy declaration must appear on the ballot as well. Election officials have said they will determine voter intent to decide whether a ballot is valid. Fenumiai says there is nothing in state law that specifically references voter intent -- but there have been precedents in case law in which voter intent has been used as the standard. Miller's camp says Alaska election law should be followed to the word, and therefore misspellings (like "Murkoski" instead of "Murkowski") should not be allowed.

Fenumiai also says there are 40 districts that need to be counted in total. She is hoping the counting teams (15 teams of two) will each get through an entire district today -- one precinct at a time.