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Alaska Libertarians drop lawsuit against state aimed at getting candidate on ballot without required signatures

Four years after their presidential candidate received almost 6% of Alaska’s vote for president, Alaska’s Libertarian Party may not be able to put a candidate’s name on the ballot.

On Monday, the party ended a lawsuit against the Alaska Division of Elections that sought to reduce the standards needed to make the ballot this year. With the coronavirus pandemic, Alaska Libertarians had said that it was impractical to gather the signatures of 3,212 registered Alaska voters before Aug. 5.

If the party gathers enough signatures, it is declared a “limited political party” and the party’s preferred candidate, Jo Jorgensen, would appear on the ballot alongside the Republican and Democratic candidates. Without it, the Libertarians would have to run Jorgensen as a write-in candidate.

“Only option now is getting signatures for the ballot,” said attorney Christopher Wiest, who represented the Libertarian Party in the lawsuit.

According to court filings, the party had managed to collect about 1,900 signatures through July 3 and has a goal of 5,000, enough to provide a margin if some are ruled invalid.

Judge John Sedwick, signaling his intention to rule against the party, wrote in a July 10 memo that the party has not yet tried to gather signatures in Juneau, Fairbanks or Ketchikan, and there did not appear to be an effort to gather signatures online.

Party chair Jon Watts said that’s because the party didn’t want to risk spreading the coronavirus via signature-gatherers. Now, it has no choice.

“We’re going to have our young folks out there on the streets, getting those petitions,” he said.

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