Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Wednesday appointed a longtime state employee and Republican Party supporter to lead the Alaska Division of Elections.
Carol Beecher, who most recently led the state’s child support division, will administer Alaska’s elections. Her first day was Wednesday.
She succeeds Gail Fenumiai, the division’s longtime director who retired late last year after administering Alaska’s first ranked choice elections. Fenumiai led the division under several Republican-led administrations. During that time, she remained politically neutral and refrained from contributing to political campaigns.
Beecher began working for the state in 2005 under several Republican elected officials, including an internship with former state Sen. John Coghill and a stint as former Gov. Sarah Palin’s scheduler.
She has been a registered Republican and has a history of making contributions to the campaigns of Republican candidates, including former President Donald Trump in 2016 and Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Her most recent contribution to Dunleavy and Dahlstrom’s campaign was in October, four months before Dahlstrom selected her for the role.
According to Alaska state statute, “it is essential that the nonpartisan nature, integrity, credibility, and impartiality of the administration of elections be maintained. To that end, the director of elections … may not join, support or otherwise participate in a partisan political organization, faction, or activity, including but not limited to the making of political contributions.” The statute permits election workers to register for a political party but not to be officers of a party or political committee.
Beecher also contributed to the campaign of Kelly Tshibaka, a right-wing Republican who ran for U.S. Senate unsuccessfully last year, losing to incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. In the wake of her election loss, Tshibaka has turned her attention to denigrating Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system.
Beecher contributed $350 to Tshibaka’s campaign and $412 to Dunleavy’s 2022 campaign. She has also made several contributions to the Alaska Republican Party and the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club.
A planned press availability with Beecher was scrapped at the last minute Wednesday afternoon. A list of questions sent by email to the lieutenant governor’s office, directed to both Beecher and Dahlstrom, went unanswered. An interview request sent to Beecher directly by email went unanswered.
Announcing the selection, Dahlstrom said in a prepared statement that Beecher’s “professionalism and extensive experience will ensure that Alaska is ready for the 2024 election cycle and beyond.” Dahlstrom said last month that she would not take an active position for or against ranked choice voting.
“While she is not confirmed by the Legislature, I look forward to hearing from her about her take on the 2022 elections/ranked choice voting and how to improve ballot accessibility before the Senate State Affairs Committee,” said Sen. Scott Kawasaki, a Fairbanks Democrat who chairs the state affairs committee, in a written statement.
Beecher grew up in a logging camp on Zarembo Island in Southeast Alaska, graduated from Wrangell High School and has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage, according to the lieutenant governor’s office, which did not provide a copy of Beecher’s full resume.
“The Division is dedicated to ensuring secure, accurate and fair elections for all Alaskans and I am confident that this will continue under the Lt. Governor’s leadership,” Beecher said in a prepared statement. “Over the next few months, I will be meeting with staff in the various regions and will continue their efforts to ensure that Alaskans can trust Alaska’s election process.”
The appointment comes as states push back increasingly against a wave of election-related misinformation, and Dahlstrom — who is charged with overseeing Alaska’s elections — has lamented the misinformation that surrounded Alaska’s recent election.