Republican candidate Joe Miller on Sunday said he will not oppose Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) being certified as the victor in Alaska's U.S. Senate race, but he will continue with his federal lawsuit challenging the state's vote count.

"I have...decided to withdraw [my] opposition to the certification of the election, ensuring that Alaska will have its full delegation seated when the 112th Congress convenes next month. This decision will allow Alaskans to focus on bringing fairness and transparency to our elections process without distraction of the certification issue," Miller said.

At the same time, "I have decided that the federal case [challenging the state's method of counting the votes] must go forward. The integrity of the election is vital and ultimately the rule of law must be our standard," he said.

Miller's decision not to oppose the state's certification of the results of the Nov. 2 election results sets the stage for Murkowski to be seated with the 112th Congress on Jan. 5. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline has indicated that he will probably lift his stay of the election results, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Miller, an attorney who was backed by former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is challenging the votes that were counted in Murkowski's favor despite the misspelling of her name. Write-in candidate Murkowski declared victory in late November with a more than 10,000-vote lead over Miller, of which more than 8,000 ballots were challenged by the Miller camp (see Daily GPI, Nov. 19).

Superior Court Judge William Carey earlier this month dismissed Miller's challenge of the criteria that the Alaska Division of Elections used to count the write-in ballots for Murkowski (see Daily GPI, Dec. 14). Carey ruled that the state's method for counting the write-in votes -- where Murkowski's name was misspelled but the voter's intent was clear -- was valid and rejected all of Miller's claims.

The Alaska Supreme Court last week unanimously rejected Miller's appeal of Carey's ruling.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska has given Miller until Monday (Dec. 27) to file motions continuing his federal case, and directed the state to file a response by Wednesday. "We are reviewing the state supreme court's ruling to determine the impact it will have on our federal claims -- which the federal court already noted were 'substantial' -- and identify the best way to proceed," said Michael T. Morley, one of Miller's attorneys.

"The litigation always has been about preventing the Division of Elections from being able to re-write the law as it chooses, and seizing for itself the power to be able to affect the outcome of elections based on what write-in votes its chooses to count," he said.

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