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“Total Write-In” has defeated Joe Miller in Alaska, 41%-34%, with 98.6% reporting. So are we ready to declare facial hair dead in the Senate once again? Of course not. We have no idea how many of those 81,876 voters counted so far in the write-in column are actually for “Lisa Murkowski” precisely. If even 8,000 people wrote down “Liza Minnelli” or “MUR + (K)OW + SKIS” or “Mike Gravel,” she may lose. According to the Anchorage Daily News, “Minor misspellings are probably OK but simply writing ‘Lisa M,’; for example, could be a problem.” It’ll be up to the courts to decide what spellings count for Murkowski, and it will probably also be up to them to decide what that semicolon is doing in that sentence we quoted. And this will drag on for approximately forever.

If Murkowski manages to win as a write-in, political operatives and academics will be studying it for years. She distributed rubber bracelets with her name on it, t-shirts, even temporary tattoos. Murkowski, a well-known incumbent with a lot of money running in a small state, was also in a good position to try to pull it off.

Lisa Murkowski created a violent drug-and-tattoo gang for herself to intimidate voters, which will probably also come up in the court cases. But we will find out if she should have just legally changed her name to one voters can spell, like “Jesus.”

Write-in ballots won’t start being counted until November 18. And after a few days and a few court battles, if Alaskans wrote down the name we thought they wrote down, Al Franken is your new U.S. senator from Alaska. [Anchorage Daily News]

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