Why Won't Joe Miller Concede? (Answer: It Doesn't Matter)
Alaska’s Democratic Senator Mark Begich made a statement yesterday that was covered in Politico and the Anchorage Daily News, calling for Joe Miller to abandon his legal challenges to the U.S. Senate election that has Lisa Murkowski unofficially declared by herself and the Associated Press as the winner of the race.
“It is time for Joe Miller to put Alaska interests ahead of personal ambition and allow the state of Alaska to certify Lisa Murkowski as the winner,” Begich said. “Without both senators, Alaska’s interests will be at risk on critical issues from energy development to job creation and reducing the national debt in a way that’s fair to Alaskans.”
Cavuto: Calls today for Joe to go. Alaska’s Democratic Senator Mark Begich says it’s time for Joe Miller to drop his legal challenge to last month’s election. Unofficial results now show that Senator Lisa Murkowski, the winner. But Joe ain’t going anywhere. Joe Miller joining me by phone. Now, we called his opponent Lisa Murkowski. She was not available.
Joe, essentially what Senator Begich is saying is “Give it up.” You’re not. Why not?
Miller: You know, that’s just one more voice on the left saying that. Frankly, you know, I would think that Alaskans would want to make sure that the election upholds the integrity of the process. You know, as we mentioned before on your show, this is not about winning or losing. This is about making sure that the rule of law is applied, and that this changing legal standard that was suddenly applied after the election isn’t allowed to hold the day. We have a law and it needs to be followed, and at the end of the day who knows what it’s going to end up with as far as the votes go. But I think that’s important to all Alaskans, and I’m going to continue to fight on their behalf.
Mr. Miller may want to note that it’s not just “one more voice on the left” that is his problem. Voices on the right are calling for Miller to give it up, and this particular voice on the left (in addition to many others) thinks that a hand count of this election, and having clear rules in place before the voters go to the polls is a fine idea. If Mr. Miller is claiming that he is doing this for the benefit of all Alaskans, he may want to tone down the partisan rhetoric and realize that it’s not only his own supporters that need to be convinced that what he is doing, regardless of motive, is a good thing.
“The left” is also part of that “all Alaskans” on whose behalf he claims to fight. Blaming that group isn’t going to get him anywhere with public opinion. As my grandmother used to say, “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”
Cavuto: Joe, right now you officially trail by 10,000 votes, and of those 10,000 I think it’s something in the vicinity of 8,000 that you’re disputing either through misspellings, or false intentions, or hard to prove. But let’s say they’re all thrown out. Now we’re down to 2,000. How do you make that up? Can you make it up? What are you waiting for?
Miller: Well, that’s a great question and that’s one that I think people need to understand a little clearer. that we really don’t know what the total number of votes undisputed are between Murkowski and I. You know, there are a couple of things at play here. One – a much more lenient standard was used in counting the votes for Senator Murkowski. She had a hand count, and we had an automated tally count. Undisputed that more votes are counted when a hand count is applied rather than an automated tally because automated tallies exclude a number of ballots. And that’s going to be in the hundreds at least, and maybe even thousands. We just simply don’t know.
In addition to that, there are a number of things that occurred during the process that disallowed us from challenging ballots that should have been challenged. So that uncontested number is actually going to go down if proper standards apply. And now we have time to prepare. You might recall that the Lt. Governor actually advanced the time for the count by over a week and that had a significant impact on our ability to move forward with the trained team to do the review necessary, and what we ended up having was a circus, effectively. And you know, I think Alaskans now expect a better process. If the court acts quickly we can get that underway. We can get the count done and Alaskans can see where this race stands and they can see the process …
Miller points out that a hand count results in more ballots being counted. What that means is that human beings, as flawed as they may be in other areas, are better vote counters than machines. Fewer people are disenfranchised when humans count the vote. More votes actually count. That means that you, regardless of your party affiliation, or who you vote for, are more likely to have your vote counted, and not tossed out for a “stray mark” or an error that has nothing to do with your intent. It may not be the popular thing to say, but I believe if more Alaskans voted for Joe Miller than anyone else, then Alaskans deserve… Joe Miller. If more Alaskans voted for Lisa Murkowski than anyone else, then they deserve Lisa Murkowski. My dog is out of the fight, but I (and you) will have future dogs in future fights.
And what about the process? Should a voter who filled in the oval and wrote in Lisa “Murcowski” have their vote counted for Lisa Murkowski? What about if someone wrote in Lisa Murkowski spelled correctly and didn’t fill in the oval? I don’t think our Founders dealt with ovals. Should that vote count? I think so, but that’s just me. Did we know ahead of time that people were bound to be completely accurate and follow all the specific rules (like ovals completely filled in) that had nothing to do with their intent? There’s a legal argument for that. And that’s why we have courts.
Do I think that everyone ought to know the rules, be clear about what counts, and follow the same standard in every election for every candidate? Yes. I’m prepared to duke it out in a big contest between the red team and the blue team and the purple team, and the green team, but I think every team has the right to a rule book. And every player has the right to know what the rules are before they decide to get on the field.
Cavuto: Are you concerned as Senator Begich pointed out that whatever your reasons, and they may be perfectly justified, Alaska stands a pretty good likelihood now of having just one senator for a while when some of the biggest issues of our time are being debated.
Miller: And I guess the question becomes – is that one extra vote going to used to continue to grow government, continue the largesse, to continue earmarks, to basically continue the fiscal destruction of the nation… and frankly I don’t think we need that. But getting more to the point I don’t think that anybody’s actually proven that there’s going to be adverse impact. Hopefully this process can be resolved quickly and before the January swearing in date. We tried to get this underway immediately, the second that the written standards were announced, the next day actually we filed suit. Incidentally the Lt. Governor even commented himself at a press conference shortly before the count or during the count that likely the issue of the standard would be resolved by the court. So, we’ve tried to move this along very quickly, but again what this is about – not personal ambition as Senator Begich would maintain, it is about making sure legal standards are applied. It is about making sure that things are done properly here in Alaska, and we’re going to continue that fight.
Will Alaska be without representation when the Senate convenes? Maybe. And before we start laying blame on Mr. Miller, or Republicans or Tea Party activists, remember that Democrats were fighting this fight six years ago. No Republicans stood up to demand an overhaul of the system. No Republicans (who have held the governorship since 2004) have cared that the Diebold Accu-Vote optical scanners we use are no longer legal in some parts of the country. California shredded thousands of them because of inaccuracies, and the fact that the machines were easily hacked.
Right now it happens to be the Republican candidate is reaping the results of his own party’s inaction in 2004. In two years, or four years, or six years, it could be the Democratic candidate who gets the short end of the stick. Will the Republicans remember this fiasco and put partisanship aside for matters of higher principle? If we solve these issues now, we won’t have to worry about that.
Alaskans with actual eyes and brains could easily be counting these couple hundred thousand ballots, and all the ballots in future elections. It’s time to hand count all ballots, every time. And it’s time to have a rule book that is clear to everyone before election day.
It isn’t either of the candidates who suffer the greatest injustice when there is no election integrity. It’s all Alaskans who do. And it’s the democratic process that does.