Sarah Palin's hand-picked candidate for the US Senate seat in Alaska has been defeated by a candidate whose name didn't even appear on the ballot paper. And what's more, for their vote to count, electors had to hand write (and spell correctly) Lisa Murkowski's surname.
Senator Murkowski was the sitting Republican member of the Senate for Alaska who sought re-election. In the Primary, she was defeated by the Tea Party (and Sarah Palin) backed Joe Miller. Murkowski's only chance of retaining her seat was to run as an independent. But she faced the additional hurdle of not having her name appear on the ballot paper. In order to win she needed to get voters to use the write-in option. But the law on judging a voter's intent is a lot less clear in the US and the Republican's were set for a court challenge to rule out any ballot paper that did not spell the name Murkowski perfectly.
When polls closed on November 2nd, the 'write-in' category was in the lead with Miller second and the Democrat trailing badly in third place. But would enough of the write in voters have spelled Murkowski's name right to give her victory.
After a laborious hand count, Murkowski was declared the winner with a lead of 10,400 votes. A large number of ballots were challenged but, even without these, she still had a margin of more than 2,000 and so officials declared her the winner.
How did she manage this feat? One factor will have been an advert she ran teaching people how to spell her name. It's not the most subtle of TV spots, but it is very effective: