Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott on Wednesday declined a request by Alaska Democrats to allow candidates not affiliated with a political party to run in the Democratic primary. State law requires a candidate seeking a party’s nomination to be a registered voter of that party. State party chair Casey Steinau has said that Democrats believe the law is unconstitutional and unenforceable based on research done by attorneys for the party. But Mallott, in a letter to Steinau, said it’s up to a court to decide whether a law is ultimately constitutional. The state intends to follow the law as it stands, said Mallott, who oversees elections in the state and said he consulted with Alaska’s Department of Law.
Articles about voting issues in Alaska.
Alaska Democratic party leaders have approved allowing candidates not affiliated with a political party to run in the Democratic primary. In a letter to state election officials provided by the party late Tuesday afternoon, party chair Casey Steinau said that Democrats believe a state law requiring a candidate seeking a party’s nomination to be a registered voter of that party to be unconstitutional and unenforceable. A memo prepared for the party by an attorney with a Washington, D.C., firm concluded that a political party’s freedom of association is likely to be found to include the right to allow non-affiliated candidates to seek that party’s nomination and that state law prohibiting that is likely to be held unconstitutional.
A statewide effort to make it easier for people to vote is culminating this week. On Jan. 14, petitioners submitted tens of thousands of required signatures to the Division of Elections to earn the PFD voter registration initiative a spot on a ballot this fall. The campaign began late last year in Anchorage and snowballed to other communities, including Sitka, Ketchikan, Kotzebue, Bethel and Fairbanks. Overall, the PFD voter ballot initiative – a proposal that automatically registers people to vote at the same time they apply for their yearly payouts—has gained support from some 42,000 Alaskans. That’s nearly double the number it needed to make it on a ballot in case some signatures were invalid. Here’s John-Henry Heckendorn, the Anchorage-based campaign manager for the PFD voter initiative. “We’re confident that by overshooting the required mark by so much we’re going to make it onto the ballot.”
Alaska: New online voter registration in place; PFD initiative backers want more | Alaska Dispatch News
With a ballot measure to simplify voter registration ready to move ahead, the Walker administration says its own online effort already is bringing results, signing up hundreds of new Alaska voters in less than two months. Alaska launched its online voter registration system at the end of November with the goal of increasing access to the ballot. Since then, 592 voter registrations have been completed, said Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, who oversees the state Division of Elections. The division on Monday announced the new online voter registration system and the hiring of a new language assistant manager for Yup’ik and Gwich’in voters. Also new this year: a connection between voter registration and Permanent Fund dividend applications. Alaskans can click a link to register to vote after they finish their PFD application.
Alaska: Native groups, unions put cash behind effort to link PFD, voter registration | Alaska Dispatch News
The group behind the initiative to merge voter registration with Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividend applications has pulled in another $45,000 from unions, Alaska Native groups and the campaign committee of Forrest Dunbar — a former candidate for U.S. Congress. In a report filed Monday, the campaign reported donations of $5,000 from Doyon, the Tanana Chiefs Conference and Get Out the Native Vote; $10,000 from the National Education Association; and $5,000 from a political action committee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Retired Alaska Supreme Court justice Walt Carpeneti gave $250. And Dunbar, who recently announced he was running for Anchorage Assembly, gave $4,500 in funds left over from his federal campaign committee.
A federal judge has set an April trial date in a case that could affect state campaign contributions limits in Alaska. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess said the trial is estimated to take five days. It is scheduled to start April 25, about four months before the state’s primary elections. An Anchorage state Republican party district and others are suing leaders of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, challenging the constitutionality of certain campaign contribution limits.
Alaska: Anchorage-based group works to get voting registration attached to PFD application on 2016 ballot | Newsminer
A group of Alaskans is making its final push in an effort to get an initiative on the state ballot that would allow people to automatically register to vote while signing up for their Permanent Fund Dividend. The group, based in Anchorage, has been gathering signatures throughout the state throughout the fall. They need 28,500 signatures — 10 percent of voter turnout from 2014 — to make the ballot in 2016. The signatures must come from at least three-fourths of the state’s legislative districts. The group must submit its signatures before the start of the 2016 legislative session, which begins Jan. 19. That means the group has a little more than a month to complete its effort. If the group succeeds, the initiative would appear on either the primary election ballot in August or the general election ballot next November.
The Anchorage Assembly unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to support conducting the 2017 city election by mail, rather than by in-person polling precincts. In a vote-by-mail election, the city will automatically mail ballots to every registered voter in Anchorage, deputy clerk Amanda Moser said in a recent interview. Voters would no longer visit a polling precinct on Election Day to fill out a ballot. Officials have been exploring the change for several years and say it will boost low voter turnout in city elections.
Alaska: GOP supporters file suit to loosen Alaska’s strict campaign donation limits | Alaska Dispatch News
A new lawsuit in federal court seeks to overturn Alaska’s strict limits on donations to political candidates and groups using a pair of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions as precedents. The suit, filed by an Anchorage Republican district and three supporters of Republican candidates, challenges the state’s $500 annual cap on individuals’ donations to candidates, as well as three other contribution limits. If the lawsuit prevails, it could reshape the political landscape for next year’s state legislative elections by allowing donors to spend more money on their favored candidates. A trial is tentatively scheduled for late April before U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess.
The constitutionality of limits on Alaska campaign contributions is challenged in a new federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Three individuals and the local chapter of the Alaska Republican Party filed the lawsuit against the executive director and board of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which enforces state political financing laws. The suit alleges that four aspects of campaign laws violate the U.S Constitution: a $500 limit on individual contributions to a candidate, a $500 limit on individual contributions to a group, the $3,000 limit on out-of-state contributions, and limits on political party contributions.