All three parties filed briefs and objections last Friday to a ruling on the lawsuit holding up Alaska’s House District 1 election. Two months after election day, the Alaska Supreme Court is scheduled to hear each party argue their points at an oral hearing this Friday morning, Jan. 4. In the meantime, the state House is at a standstill, unable to elect a speaker until a majority is decided. The careful, persnickety points each party argues can be fascinating, or frustrating. Half the voters in this downtown Fairbanks district voted for each side. The race was certified as a tie between Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon, until the Nov. 30 recount put LeBon one vote ahead.
Dodge filed a complaint to the Division of Elections on that day, challenging the way four ballots were counted. LeBon’s people joined with the Alaska Republican Party intervened shortly after, challenging six ballots.
In a six-and-a-half-hour hearing on Dec. 20, attorneys argued to Superior Court Judge Eric Arseth why the ballots should be counted differently. When it was over, Arseth let the count stand, saying new evidence could not be considered, the Division of Elections did the best it could with what was known at the time, and the state needs to move on.