After claiming reprinting ballots would ‘blow up the election,’ state reprints some ballots

The Alaska Division of Elections’ mishandling of the 2020 election continues today with the news that it’s reprinting some 81,500 ballots in order to include the political affiliation of four candidates who reached the ballot via nominating petition.

According to a report by KTUU’s Sean Maguire, the state has started reprinting ballots for House Districts 11, 12, 16 and 38 in order to reflect the party affiliation on nominating petition candidates belonging to the Alaska Libertarian Party and Veterans Party. This comes after the state argued against reprinting ballots in a separate case, claiming such a move would “blow up the election.”

The omission of the candidates’ parties is the result of a secretive ballot redesign conducted by Elections Director Gail Fenumiai that reduced the ballot down to just the route by which candidates reached the general election ballot. It had the impact of erasing the independent status of some Democrat-backed candidates and erasing the political status of petition candidates while leaving Republican candidates untouched.

The redesign was revealed only after some 800,000 general election ballots had been printed, less than a week before they were set to start going out to overseas voters.

Democratic, independent and Libertarian candidates all raised issues with the state’s handling of the ballot. They argued that the move favored Republicans—especially as they’re working to cast independents as Democrats—and that the ballots should be reprinted.

[See also: Oops. Division of Elections sent out ballots listing the wrong candidate for Anchorage House race]

Democrat-backed independent congressional candidate Alyse Galvin argued that the ballot should include her non-affiliated voter registration as well as the fact she was the Alaska Democratic Party’s nominee, as the 2018 ballots and the 2020 primary ballot did. Though the courts seemed to be receptive to her case, they ultimately relied on statements from Fenumiai that cast doubt on whether the election could be conducted successfully and rejected her effort to force the ballots to be reprinted.

The latest decision to reprint about one in 10 ballots comes as House District 16 Libertarian candidate Scott Kohlhaas filed a lawsuit on Friday. Kohlhaas said he received a voicemail from Fenumiai on the same day that he filed the lawsuit, telling him that she had already decided to reprint the ballots.

Kohlhaas told KTUU that he was skeptical of the timing.

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