The Alaska Democratic Party wants to allow non-partisan candidates to run on the Democratic ballot in Primary Elections, and the party has filed a legal challenge to a state law that restricts the primary ballot to members only. Some Republicans allege the Democrats are trying to pull a fast one. State Democratic Party chair Casey Steinau says Democrats want to open their ballot to be more inclusive, to welcome candidates who don’t want to wear labels. “This allows folks who are clearly aligned with us, that have our values to — who don’t necessarily want to be pigeonholed into one political party, which is where I think Alaskans are these days — and it allows them to go ahead and compete for our support,” she said.
Last month the party changed its rules and asked the state to allow any unaffiliated candidate to appear on the Democratic ballot, as long as they aren’t register with a different party. According to legal opinions the party obtained, the new rule is covered by the constitutional right to freedom of association.
Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, as head of the Division of Elections, rejected their request, citing a state law that says a candidate must be a party member to appear on that party’s ballot. But Mallott says, from the legal opinions he’s read, he thinks the Democratic Party is likely to win in court. And the Lieutenant governor, a Democrat who won office arm-in-arm with independent candidate Bill Walker, says he thinks the party has the right idea.