All Votes for Murkowski Go Through One Woman
Gail Fenumiai oversees unprecedented election
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2010 8:24 PM CST
Alaska Elections Division Director Gail Fenumiai, right, and Assistant Attorney General Sarah Felix look over a ballot Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, in Juneau, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(Newser) – With 98,500 write-in votes cast in the Alaska Senate race, the contest is being decided through the actions of one woman: Gail Fenumiai, the director of Alaska's Division of Elections. Fenumiai has been personally overseeing the unprecedented count, in which write-in ballots—some with significantly mutilated spellings of Murkowski's name—are declared legitimate or discarded, NPR reports.

A typical day in Fenumiai's operation sees her perform her court-ordered duty: of write-ins casting a ballot for "Lisa Murcouski," "Lisa Murkowksi," "Lisa Murizowski" and "Lisa Mikawski," she counts the first pair and disqualifies the second. But her accepted misspellings may be later disqualified by a judge. Alaska's lieutenant governor says he had the "utmost confidence" in Fenumiai's competence and integrity. "She takes it seriously," he said. "She's proving she has what it takes."