Opinions

Division of Elections’ ballot actions are dishonest

Vote counting in Juneau

The Alaska Division of Elections has overstepped its bounds to favor the administration’s political party. Again.

In a blatant attempt to censor candidates without allegiance to the two main parties, Director Gail Fenumiai redesigned the general election ballots, eliminating any indication that independent candidates who reached the general election through the Alaska Democratic Party’s primaries are, in fact, independents. Her unilateral decision doesn’t just affect Al Gross and Alyse Galvin. Libertarian candidate Scott Kohlhaas (State House District 16) was informed that the Division of Elections would not be printing “Libertarian” next to his name on the ballot.

This is in direct violation of Alaska statute 15.25.190, which states, “The director shall place the names and the political group affiliation of persons who have been properly nominated by petition on the general election ballot.” Fenumiai argues that it doesn’t apply because this statute existed before the Democratic Party opened their primaries, but still has not provided an explanation as to why the changes were made.

Sadly, the answer to why is simple. Fenumiai and her boss, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, have abused their offices since the beginning in order to “tip the scales” in favor of their affiliation — the Republican Party. Under their reign, the Division of Elections refused to conduct a by-mail absentee election during the pandemic, despite the Legislature explicitly giving them that power. The Alaska Supreme Court had to overturn the Division’s summary of Ballot Measure 1, where the courts actually said Meyer had put “his finger on the scales.” And the Division of Elections also attempted to reject the Recall Dunleavy effort, as well as an election reform voter initiative, with the Alaska Supreme Court overturning both rejections as wrong.

Their actions show a complete disregard for the Division’s accountability to Alaska voters. This decision was made without any voter’s input or request, and no public notice was given for months in order to try and avoid their questionable actions being overturned by the courts. Voters will now be unaware of the political affiliation of any candidates not nominated by the Republicans or Democrats, and candidates who are truly independent have been stripped of that moniker.

When our democratic process is under attack, it shouldn’t matter by who. We should all be against these tactics, because they undermine our ability to exercise the most important and influential right we have as individuals — the right to express ourselves at the ballot box.

Gavin Christiansen is a former Libertarian candidate for Alaska Senate Seat F. He lives in Wasilla.

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