Alaska Legislature

Republican Anchorage lawmaker Lance Pruitt challenges 11-vote election loss in court

Anchorage Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt and others are filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn his 11-vote loss to Democratic challenger Liz Snyder.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pruitt and several individuals, previously described as voters in his district, who sought a recount in his race.

In a complaint filed Wednesday, attorney Stacey Stone claims the state failed to properly provide notice when the Alaska Division of Elections moved a polling location from Muldoon Town Center to Begich Middle School. The suit also claims the Division of Elections failed to provide adequate election security after the Alaska Supreme Court temporarily invalidated the state law requiring absentee ballots to be co-signed by a witness.

“Election integrity matters,” Pruitt said Wednesday night.

The lawsuit asks that the results be recounted after particular ballots are thrown out. If the court isn’t willing to do that, the suit asks for a new election.

State law allows the case to be appealed immediately to the Alaska Supreme Court, and Stone filed the appropriate documents on Wednesday.

Pruitt, the House minority leader, led Snyder on election night but Snyder ultimately won after many absentee, early and questioned ballots were added to the total. The Alaska Division of Elections counts those votes after Election Day.

A group of House District 27 voters asked for a recount of that loss, and the recount confirmed Snyder’s victory.

Maria Bahr, a spokesperson for the state Department of Law, said the department is “reviewing the pleadings and will respond in a timely manner.”

The lawsuit names as defendants Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections, and Gail Fenumiai, the Division of Elections director.

Holly Wells, an attorney who represented Snyder during the recount, said Snyder would seek to intervene in the case.

The Snyder-Pruitt race is crucially important: The 40-person Alaska House of Representatives is split 20-20 between Republicans on one side and a coalition of independents, Democrats and one Republican on the other.

If Pruitt wins the case, the Republican side would have 21 members, enough to control the House. Republicans would still have to settle internal disagreements or convince coalition members to switch in order to have firmer control.

No other lawsuits have challenged the results of Alaska’s November general election.

This story has been updated with reporting from Becky Bohrer of the Associated Press.

Sponsored