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In Alaska, Miller presses on with 'voter-intent' challenge

Alaska Republican Joe Miller is asking a federal judge to lift an order that blocked the state from certifying Lisa Murkowski as the winner of the state's U.S. Senate election. But, at the same time, Miller urges the judge to let him continue challenging the method that was used to count write-in ballots.

A federal judge had set a deadline of 9 am Monday, Alaska time, for filing legal papers to keep the lawsuit alive. "With the election results certified, and Alaska's full congressional delegation representing the interests of Alaska's citizens in Congress, it will not be necessary to dispose of this case in an extremely expedited manner," Miller's lawyers said in court documents filed shortly before the deadline.

They asked the judge to suspend the deadline for Miller to seek a recount or to challenge the manner in which the votes were tallied.

Miller originally went to federal court a week after the general election, claiming the state was improperly counting write-in votes for Murkowski. The federal lawsuit was on hold while Miller and elections officials battled in state court over the meaning of a provision of Alaska election law. It specifies that a write-in vote must be counted if the name of the candidate is written as it appears on the candidate's declaration to run.

Miller argued that the law requires voters to write a candidate's name precisely, with no abbreviations or misspellings. He challenged the state's interpretation of the law, which allowed votes to be counted despite minor misspellings.

Last week, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the state, holding that the key to interpreting election law is preventing votes from being tossed out if a voter's intent can be determined. The court said the law doesn't require perfection in how a candidate's name is written.