Alaska high court sides with state in ballot access case


The Alaska Supreme Court has reversed a lower court decision that barred state elections officials from certifying the results of Saturday’s special U.S. House primary amid concerns about ballot accessibility for voters with visual impairments.

The high court said Saturday that an explanation of its reasoning would follow at a later time.

Attorneys for the state had asked the supreme court to reverse a Friday ruling from a Superior Court judge that they interpreted as preventing elections officials from concluding voting as scheduled Saturday.

Superior Court Judge Una Gandbhir on Friday ruled that Alaska elections officials could not certify the results of the by-mail special primary until visually impaired voters “are provided a full and fair opportunity to participate” in the election. She did not specify what that would entail.

The ruling from the supreme court noted simply that the order granting the injunction was reversed and vacated.

The court drama was the latest twist in what has already been an extraordinary election, unlike any Alaska voters had seen, packed with 48 candidates vying for the seat left vacant by the death in March of U.S. Rep. Don Young. Young, a Republican, held the seat for 49 years.

It is the first election held under a system approved by voters in 2020 that ends party primaries and uses ranked choice voting in general elections.

Prominent candidates in the race include former Gov. Sarah Palin, Nick Begich, Tara Sweeney and Josh Revak, all Republicans; independent Al Gross; and Democrats Christopher Constant and Mary Peltola. A self-described “independent, progressive, democratic socialist” whose legal name is Santa Claus has gotten attention but has not been raising money.


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