A Superior Court judge has ruled the State of Alaska cannot certify the current mail-in election because the Division of Elections did not provide an adequate way for blind people to vote privately in all areas of the state. The election ends at 8 pm Saturday.
The State Department of Law is asking the Alaska Supreme Court to reverse the injunction, which was written by Superior Court Judge Una Gahdbhir.
The ruling throws a monkey wrench into the hurry-up election put together by the Elections Division to get the special primary election completed in the legal timeframe. When Congressman Don Young died on March 18, the Elections Division Director Gail Fenumiai and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer decided to do the state’s first all-mail-in election. Ballots went out in the mail on April 27, and must be postmarked by June 11. Over 121,000 ballots have been cast in this election, as of Wednesday.
Certification was set for June 25 by the Division of Elections.
The judge did not provide a remedy for getting private voting options for visually impaired people. The Alaska Human Rights Commission sued on Wednesday, giving the State little time to remedy the problem of ensuring that blind people could cast a ballot in secret, as seeing people are able to do with the paper ballots.
The Elections Division will be able to count votes on Saturday night, but if the delay continues, it could impact when the State holds the special general.
Yet, if the election results are made public, and there is a very close race, those public results could theoretically end up swaying the final tally, if there are enough blind voters who decide to vote.
Right now the primary election for the regular election is Aug. 16, and if the special primary election certification is delayed, the special general could be delayed by a few weeks. Will the Division of Election also conduct that one by mail only?
One thing is certain, the ruling derails the ability of the Election Division to meet the statutory timeframe for the special general election to be on the same day as the regular primary election.