[The AK Supreme Court has put a stay on the Superior Court Judge's order. For now. See important update at bottom of article.]
As we've been suggesting in our two previous articles on the issue, the Alaska Division of Election's unprecedented move to supply printed lists of write-in candidates to polling places, purportedly to "assist" voters seeking help, violates state election procedures.
A judge today ruled in favor of the Alaska Democratic Party (ADP), as well as the state Republicans who joined the suit, by issuing a temporary restraining order finding the DoE's practice a "clear violation of Alaska administrative regulation."
We covered the issue over the weekend when it first came up, as letters went back and forth between the ADP, who charged the procedure amounted to "electioneering" inside the polling place, and the DoE, who claimed they were required by state and federal law to provide such assistance to voters.
We covered it again last night, when the DoE responded to our public records request for previous lists of printed write-in candidates by denying the request, since, as DoE Director Gail Fenumiai wrote, "The requested records do not exist."
State Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner agreed that the state's argument "rings hollow", noting, "If it were important 'assistance' for the division to provide voters with lists of write-in candidates, then the division has been asleep at the switch for the past 50 years. The division first developed the need for a write-in candidate list 12 days ago."
The ruling comes as a blow to incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who tossed her hat into the ring as a write-in candidate after her primary loss to the GOP's Joe Miller. Along with Democratic nominee Scott McAdams, a fierce three-way battle has ensued for the open U.S. Senate seat from Alaska. Although it's unclear what leg they have to stand on, the state has said they will appeal Pfiffner's decision ordering the immediate removal of the printed list of "certified" write-in candidates from polling places across the state. The judge also ruled that pollworkers may not mention Murkowski's, or any write-in candidate's name, to voters.
As reported by Erika Bolstad in today's Anchorage Daily News...