Over the weekend we covered the dispute between Alaska's Division of Elections (DoE), who has been handing out printed lists of write-in candidates to early voting sites, and the Alaska Democratic Party (ADP) who says doing so amounts to inappropriate electioneering at the polling place for write-in U.S. Senate candidate Lisa Murkowski in support of her challenge against GOP nominee Joe Miller and the Democrat's Scott McAdams.
The ADP went to court yesterday to file for an injunction, an official told The BRAD BLOG late today. The judge will issue his finding on Wednesday morning. But an admission we received today from Gail Fenumiai, Director of the DoE, may make it more difficult for the state to make their case.
As we detailed Saturday, in letters back and forth between the parties, the Fenumiai has been arguing that the list of candidates --- which reminds voters that Murkowski is running, and shows how to spell her name (a potential matter of dispute when determining which write-ballots should be counted or thrown out) --- is required by state and federal law in order to "to provide assistance to voters in the polling place upon request." She claims "The list of write-in candidates is the best way for poll workers to provide consistent information and assistance to voters if requested, regarding write-in candidates."
In response, ADP attorneys argued "There is no statutory or other legal basis for generating and making available to voters a list of write-in candidates and we are unaware, in the fifty-year history of the state, that such a list has ever previously been generated or used."
Indeed, as other names may be written in on ballots, in addition to those on the list, and the deadline is still open for write-in candidates to file a declaration of intent (giving them certain post-election privileges), the procedure seems legally dubious as well as historically unprecedented as ADP attorneys have charged.
To get to the bottom of it, and to find out if, in fact, the DoE has ever taken such action to "provide assistance" in previous elections, as Fenumiai claims is required by both state and federal law, The BRAD BLOG dashed off a public records request for any similar printed lists of write-in candidate provided to polling places during any previous elections.
This afternoon we received our reply from the DoE's Director, denying our public records request because, as she explains, the DoE has never supplied such a list prior to these 2010 general elections, so there are no records to send in response to our request.
Here's the pertinent part of her response [which is linked in full below]...