Ballots for 4 districts to be reprinted, showing candidates' affiliations

Ballots for four districts will be reprinted, showing candidates’ affiliations
Ballots for four districts will be reprinted, showing candidates’ affiliations(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 2:05 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - General election ballots for four districts are being reprinted to show candidates' political group affiliations.

General election ballots for House Districts 11, 12, 16, and 38 will all be reprinted. Maria Bahr, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Law, said a total of 81,500 ballots will be reprinted.

Scott Kohlhaas filed a lawsuit on Friday against the Alaska Division of Elections for not showing his Libertarian Party affiliation on the House District 16 ballot. Before last Thursday, Kohlhaas was listed only as a “petition nominee” on the ballot.

Bahr said by email that the error in not listing Kohlhaas' Libertarian affiliation “was an unintentional omission” due largely to the change in the party’s status in Alaska.

The Libertarian Party has historically been a recognized political party in Alaska but lost that status in 2018, becoming instead a “political group.”

“Most nominating petition candidates do not have a political group supporting them and are thus listed on the ballot as a ‘Petition Nominee,’” Bahr said.

Alaska law requires the Division of Elections' director to “place the names and the political group affiliation of persons who have been properly nominated by petition.”

The omission also impacts Gavin Christiansen who is on the ballot as a Libertarian in the race for Senate District F which covers two House districts. He had to drop out of the race due to health reasons.

Willy Keppel, a candidate for House District 38, will also now have his affiliation as a Veterans Party candidate printed on the ballot.

Kohlhaas complained on Sept. 17 about his Libertarian affiliation not being listed on the ballot to Gail Fenumiai, the director of the Division of Elections. Bahr said that alerted the division to the potential violation of Alaska law.

Bahr said one week later that Fenumiai decided to reprint the ballots for the districts “to correct the issue without disenfranchising voters and causing major disruptions to the election.”

The ballots began to be reprinted last Friday.

Ballots for the districts already sent to overseas and military voters cannot be reprinted, Bahr said. In his lawsuit, Kohlhaas said he accepted that would be the case.

On Friday morning, when Kohlhaas filed his lawsuit, Fenumiai left a voicemail for Kohlhaas, informing him of her decision to reprint the ballots the day before. Kohlhaas said he was skeptical of that timing.

The lawsuit follows a separate challenge to the appearance of the general election ballot that went to the Alaska Supreme Court.

Alyse Galvin, an independent running as the Democratic nominee for Alaska’s sole U.S. House of Representatives seat, sued the Divisions of Elections for not listing her nonpartisan status on the ballot. Galvin lost that case.

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