A spark of hope, but not much more than a spark right now, alas:

The Division of Elections has put out a big statewide update, which includes the districts reported already as well as new ones (will take a little time to figure out just which ones.)

The bottom line in the update is that the state is now reporting that it’s counted over 8,000 absentee and early votes today.

The write-ins lead Joe Miller by 12,525 votes. That represents a 914 vote gain for Miller in today’s count of absentee and early votes. The write-in lead was 13,439 the start of the day.

According to Miller in the clip below, there are roughly 37,000 absentees outstanding. If he continues to gain at this pace, he’ll end up somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 votes down at the end of the absentee counting, which means he’ll have to make up the difference in write-ins — either via write-in votes for him or by disqualifying ambiguous ballots that would otherwise go to Murkowski. He says in the clip that the disqualification rate in 1998, the last time someone in Alaska mounted a write-in bid, was eight percent. If that held true for Murkowski’s pool, it would knock 6,500 or so votes off her lead, which … still leaves him a few thousand votes short. And that’s assuming, of course, that Murky’s high-profile voter education campaign on how to properly write in a candidate’s name did nothing to improve the error rate from 1998.

Realistically, I think, he’s got to gain at a greater rate among the rest of the absentees. And he might: His strongholds are Fairbanks and the Mat-Su Valley, and it’s unclear from the ADN report quoted above whether they’ve been counted yet. (They hadn’t as of a few hours ago.) Also, Conservatives4Palin notes that he’s doing about eight percent better among absentees than he did on election day whereas the write-ins are doing about eight percent worse. That makes sense: Miller faded near the end of the campaign, so ballots mailed earlier on should break more heavily for him than ballots cast on election day. Fingers crossed.

Tags: Alaska